Pits/ Terrace

Titirangi Station, Main Highway 35, Tolaga Bay

  • Pits/ Terrace.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Joanna Wylie.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Joanna Wylie.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 6645 Date Entered 10th March 1986

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Extent of List Entry

The registration includes part of the land described as Lot 64 DP 1324, Gisborne Land District and the archaeological site Z17/253 (New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Record Number).

City/District Council

Gisborne District

Region

Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lot 64 DP 1324 (CT GS126/62), Gisborne Land District

Summaryopen/close

New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Record Number Z17/253 is a pits/ terrace site that forms part of the dense archaeological landscape of the Tolaga Bay (Uawa) area. It is located on Titirangi Station, to the southeast of the Tolaga Bay township.

Pit sites and the many other recorded archaeological sites including pa, midden, gardens and urupa reflect the intensive Maori occupation of the Tolaga Bay from the time of initial Polynesian settlement approximately 700 years ago. Access to abundant food resources from the sea, rivers, inland forests and horticultural production (kumara) meant that a large population could be sustained. It has been estimated that the early Maori population of Tolaga Bay totalled approximately 1200; and the main iwi was Te Aitanga a Hauiti.

Pit and pit/ terrace sites are very common in Tolaga Bay, and demonstrate the importance of horticulture to Tolaga Bay's earliest inhabitants. The Bay's fertile soils and temperate climate were well suited to kumara gardening, and the pits were used for storing harvested kumara over the winter months. Rectangular storage pits (which were once roofed with a layer of earth), are more prevalent than the underground storage pits found elsewhere in New Zealand, a pattern attributed to the harder substrate of the soil in this area. They are in fact the most common archaeological site type in Tolaga Bay, and are found along the river banks and on the rolling hills to the south of the Bay. They are generally located in clusters on knolls or terraces, or on ridge crests, in lines from end to end Terraces are discrete areas that were deliberately levelled by Maori to create a flat surface for activities or buildings.

Pits/ terrace site Z17/253 is located on a knoll on the eastern side of a deep gully in the southwest of Titirangi Station, and is currently in pasture. Stock ponds are located to the west and south of the site, and there are number of other archaeological sites in the vicinity, notably Te Raroa pa (Z17/31, Z17/32 and Z17/252), which occupies the ridgeline to the east of the site and includes an extensive number of rectangular storage pits.

This site was first recorded by archaeologist Kevin Jones during his archaeological survey work in the Whangara, Tolaga Bay and Uawa Catchment areas in 1982-1983. This survey work was undertaken to gain information about the nature of prehistoric settlement in this locality, and also to evaluate specific sites for registration under the Historic Places Act 1980. Jones described the site as a levelled knoll with an adjacent raised rim pit, and a sketch plan he completed of the site illustrates a second pit on the levelled knoll itself.

Z17/253 was not revisited by archaeologist Vanessa Tanner as part of the New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Recording Scheme Upgrade Project in late 1999 - early 2000, though Tanner did observe the site from the ridgeline above (presumably from Te Raroa). Tanner commented that the site was very vague - the features being barely discernable. A 2007 New Zealand Historic Places Trust site visit confirmed that the pits were reasonably vague, having been in-filled, but a raised rim pit to the east of these pits was recorded as being in excellent condition. This raised rim pit measured approximately 6.3 metres long x 3.8 metres wide, and was 0.8 metres deep. It does not appear to have been recorded by Jones on the original site record form, so cannot therefore be confirmed as part of the registered site. A new site plan was drawn during the 2007 New Zealand Historic Places Trust site visit.

Z17/253 is one of numerous pit and pit/terrace sites recorded in the Tolaga Bay area, and is part of a dense archaeological and cultural landscape that is of considerable significance to Te Aitanga a Hauiti. This landscape reflects the intensive Maori occupation and settlement of the Tolaga Bay area since the 14th - 15th centuries AD, and the important role that horticulture played in this.

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Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Public NZAA Number

Z17/253

Completion Date

10th March 2008

Report Written By

Joanna Wylie

Information Sources

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation

Cooks Cove Walkway, Gisborne, 1998

New Zealand Journal of Archaeology

New Zealand Journal of Archaeology

Kevin Jones, 'Polynesian Settlement and Horticulture in Two River Catchments of the Eastern North Island, New Zealand, Volume 8, 1986, pp 5 -32.

New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA)

New Zealand Archaeological Association

Site Record Forms for Z17/253 - original 1983 site record form and 2000 update.

Historic Places in New Zealand

Historic Places in New Zealand

Kevin Jones, 'Tolaga Bay - Turangawaewae of Chiefs', No. 2, 1983, pp. 18-20

Other Information

Iwi/ Hapu/ Whanau: Te Aitanga a Hauiti

A fully referenced upgrade report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area Office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.