PHO2011-0815.jpg Olsson swamp excavation, Waitara (1960). Collection of Puke Ariki (PHO2011-0815).

There was some serious summer spadework that went on Waitara in 1960. This photograph shows two of the willing volunteers who pitched in for a Taranaki archaeological excavation which was groundbreaking in more ways than one. The dig, which began in January 1960, was planned and spearheaded by the charismatic director of Canterbury Museum, Roger Duff. Duff had been drawn by the national publicity after a richly carved paepae (facing board) was discovered by thirteen-year-old schoolboy Shaun Ainsworth in Frank Olsson’s swamp on Richmond Street in March 1959. The charismatic archaeologist was committed to winning iwi support for any excavation his visits to Ōwae marae and consultation with Māori prior to the dig were a first for New Zealand archaeology. The excavation of approximately 950 square metres of swamp took about three weeks and involved large numbers of volunteers who mucked in an helped with the dirty work. The search yielded no more carved panels but some other smaller wooden artefacts were found.

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