Thousands of historical relics have been discovered beneath a central Christchurch site after sitting undisturbed for 170 years.
Aotearoa is home to magnificent hidden treasures – and some of them were uncovered in 2022.
Archaeological digs, renovations and fluke discoveries have unearthed ancient relics and artefacts lost to time, and revealed forgotten details of New Zealand’s history.
Here are some of this year’s best ancient finds.
Māori adzes found in coastal suburb
In January, two stone tools found in the Christchurch suburb of Redcliffs were offered to hapū.
The toki ōnewa (basalt adzes) were discovered on the grounds of the former Redcliffs School during works to move the school to front the estuary.
The adzes may look something like this one found near the Manawatū River.
Nearby caves have also yielded items such as moa bones, a waka (canoe), and a carved wooden kurī (dog). Ngāi Tahu history kaumātua Tā Tipene O’Regan earlier told Stuff that the mouth of the estuary and Redcliffs were significant occupational sites from the early periods of Māori life in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Century-old treasures buried beneath Christchurch
Archaeological digs of rebuild sites in Christchurch’s CBD have unearthed a treasure trove of historic items.
Archaeologists have discovered a trove of historic items beneath sites in central Christchurch, including these century-old “Frozen Charlotte” dolls.
One particular dig excavated an intact shoe, a Chilean peso from 1853 and a former vegetable plot, while another at the site of the old Christchurch Ladies’ School recovered century-old “Frozen Charlotte” porcelain dolls.
Archaeologists say that discoveries at the rebuild sites may help us gain insight into how people lived in the 19th century.
The schoolhouse with relics hidden within it’s walls
An 1800s Nelson schoolhouse was found to be hiding a collection of old school items within its walls when owner Jason Monopoli began renovations this year.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF
An old Nelson schoolhouse was found to be home to treasures from yesteryear, including school slates and pencils, a purse, clothing items and old newspapers.
Among the finds were slate boards with slate pencils, English Grammar books, 19th century newspapers, and the remains of a Victorian style woman’s jacket.
The building also contains a locked safe that doesn’t have a key and hasn’t been opened for at least 30 years.
Message in a bottle found in ‘fluke discovery’
Christchurch seems to be a hidden treasure hotspot – when the city’s Citizens’ War Memorial was dismantled and moved, contractors found an 85-year-old message in a bottle hidden in the memorial’s concrete centre.
A glass bottle containing a note was found inside the concrete core of the Christchurch Citizens’ War Memorial when it was dismantled and moved from Cathedral Square last year.
The message contained the names of stonemasons who had worked on the memorial, which was built in 1937.
Slice of Picton history recovered by archaeologists
Parts of a wooden bridge were uncovered in Picton after archaeologist Kirsty Sykes stumbled upon an old bridge foundation while playing with her daughter.
Archaeologist Kirsty Sykes with part of an original wooden bridge on State Highway 1, Picton, thought to date back to the 1860s.
The original bridge is thought to date back to the 1860s, and was used until a newer structure was built in the early 20th century. Pieces of wood that were recovered were sent to the Picton Museum for display.