Stoddart Weirs in Diamond Harbour recognised for historic and archaeological significance
Explore the Diamond Harbour Sports Ground at Stoddart Point in Canterbury and you may come across two straight terraces in a gully. These unassuming structures are the remains of two former weirs built by early pākehā settler, Mark Stoddart. In 1862, Stoddart built the weirs to create a pond as a reliable water supply for his stock and horticultural business.
These weirs have been recently added to the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero as a Category 2 historic site.
"The weirs tell an important story of how early pākehā settlers modified their environment," says Senior Heritage Assessment Advisor, Robyn Burgess.
"The upper weir is unusually constructed of local volcanic rocks and was wide enough to drive a horse and cart across. The lower weir is of earth and stone."
The weirs are also connected to Diamond Harbour’s oldest building, Stoddart Cottage. Mark Stoddart and his wife, Anna, lived there, and their orchards, extensive vegetable gardens and crops relied on the water supply from the weirs.
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Senior Archaeologist, Frank van der Heijden, assessed the site as having moderate to high archaeological values.
"If the weirs were investigated using archaeological methods they have the potential to give us significant information on the construction methods used by early pākehā settlers," he says.
Next time you wander around the Diamond Harbour Reserve take a stroll to the top of the gully and see if you can spot the Stoddart Weirs.