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Past uncovered at Papamoa

As future development in the Wairakei area at Papamoa East looks to extend south with high density housing, a team of archaeologists is delving into the area's distant past. 

Archaeologist Don Prince braves cold, biting winds to examine an area where evidence of pre-European settlement on a sandy knoll at Papamoa East has been marked and recorded [Credit: Cam Scott]
Led by Ken Phillips, the team was called in by Bluehaven Management, which is involved in large-scale property development in the area. Chief executive Bill Miller said the firm called in archaeological consultants when required, as part of their resource consent obligations. 

Mr Phillips was unable to be contacted, but working on the site early this week was Don Prince, who said while no carbon-dating had yet been done, archaeological evidence that had been uncovered was typical of Maori beach settlements in late pre-European times. 

Some trenches dug across the top of the sandy knoll had not produced a great deal but the latest one, dug over a recent weekend, had produced evidence of seafood processing, as well as earthworks and hangi sites, Mr Prince said. 

Digging in light, sandy soil was difficult and it was likely the knoll had been reduced in height by erosion following European settlement. 

Work on the site usually takes place at weekends, with the archaeologists also spending time on other projects around the country. 

A huge area of former farmland in Papamoa East is being developed into a town which already has solid foundations in the new Golden Sands school, a Four Square supermarket, retail and commercial businesses and fast -growing housing precincts. 

Bluehaven is developing an 8ha area in the Golden Sands Drive area called Excelsa Village, which is seen as a design model for Wairakei. 

Another landowner, Hawridge Developments, is also involved in the area. 

Destined to join the Papamoa Junction industrial area to the west and the larger Te Tumu development to the east, Wairakei is expected to take 40 or 50 years to develop, injecting billions into New Zealand's economy, Mr Miller says. 

Development is setting a blueprint for the future, with an emphasis on easily-managed sections and more creative building design. 

This marks a departure from traditional developments where residents have insisted on larger areas of land and houses have been of similar design. 

It fits Tauranga City Council's policy of encouraging higher density housing that will slow urban sprawl and make the provision of services and infrastructure more manageable. 

Despite the slow economy, sections at Papamoa East are recording healthy sales, with buyers including everyone from retirees to young families.  

Even former opponents of high density housing are buying, Mr Miller says. 

"The surprising thing is that not many people, even in Tauranga, seem to realise just how enormous development out here has become and just how big it is going to be. 

"I believe this is one of the best-planned developments in the entire country." 

Source: Bay of Plenty Times [July 14, 2011]

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