The discovery of apparent dig sites at historic local homesteads has lead the Nelson City Council to warn alleged culprits that they may be at risk of prosecution under legislation protecting archaeological heritage.
Council staff have recently discovered potholes and small piles of turf at Isel Park, Broadgreen Gardens and Queens Gardens, creating a hazard for staff and the public “as well as potentially damaging a historic site”.
“This is our city, our place, our heritage and we want to take care of it,” says council group manager of community services Roger Ball.
There have been allegations circulating that those responsible are metal detectorists looking for historic items at the sites. As pre-1900 archaeological sites, Isel Historic House and Park and Broadgreen Historic House and Park are protected under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 and Resource Management Act 1991.
Roger says any work that may affect an archaeological site must first be approved by Heritage New Zealand.
“As such, potholes or piles of dug-up turf could be considered vandalism and the offenders risk prosecution under the act.”
He says that if a member of the public notices any such damage, it can be reported directly to Heritage New Zealand.