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Storm uncovers history

Track closed as archaeologists work

Published: 19 June 2018

Archaeologists are studying a piece of Auckland’s infrastructure history uncovered by April’s storms.

When a poplar on the Western Springs Park lakeside track near Motat fell in high winds, the remains of the original 1870s pumphouse water-intake were exposed.

The tree’s root structure was so dense that brickwork was caught within it, and the remains of what are thought to be foundations, elements of a sluice, and cast-iron pipework were uncovered underground.

The remains are being investigated and recorded by consultant archaeologists, and options for their conservation explored.

The discovery might be a boon to historians, but it has not been as popular for walkers making use of the park’s tracks, with the area closed to allow archaeologists to work.

Any invasive works on the remains, which includes removing the fallen tree, require resource consent because the site is scheduled as a Historic Heritage Place.

Heritage New Zealand expertise is being called in because the remains pre-date 1900.

Auckland Council hopes to be able to conserve the remains for park users to engage with and learn about the history of Auckland’s early water supply system.

The track through pines at Western Springs Lakeside Reserve is also still closed after storm damage dropped eight trees and damaged others, increasing the risk to the public.

The Waitematā Local Board has a plan to restore native bush to the area.

Widespread damage across the park has highlighted the urgency of the plan, which is about to go through a notified consent hearing process.