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Archaeological Assessment: Proposed National Erebus Memorial site, Dove-Myer Robinson Park

Archaeological assessment at proposed site of National Erebus Memorial, Dove-Myer Robinson Park, Auckland. Photo Credit: Clough and Associates. 

Before construction of the National Erebus Memorial can begin at the proposed site in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage must gain a number of approvals, one of which is an archaeological authority from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

As part of this process the Ministry engaged independent archaeologists Clough and Associates to undertake an assessment of the site to determine whether there is anything of archaeological significance at the site which might affect the plans for the memorial.

This assessment was completed in mid-February. It will now be submitted to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as part of the Ministry's application for an archaeological authority to modify the site in order to build the memorial.  They will consider all Clough and Associates’ findings and recommendations and determine what mitigations may or may not be required as part of any construction

A summary of Clough and Associates findings is included below, the full reports (two documents) are also available for download. The findings offer a valuable addition to the historical record of the area.


The proposed site for the National Erebus Memorial within Dove-Myer Robinson Park is in the vicinity of two known archaeological sites.  The first Mataharehare Pa, was located on the northern end of Campbells Point but was destroyed when the headland was cut down in 1910s/20s. The second is Sir John Logan Campbell’s former residence Kilbryde House, which was demolished in 1924.   A number of iwi have associations with the area.

The proposed memorial site itself is located within what were once the gardens of Kilbryde House.  The route proposed for a temporary access road to the memorial construction site, which may or may not be required, crosses the site of Kilbryde House itself.

Findings from exploratory archaeological work

At the end of January, as part of its archaeological assessment, Clough and Associates conducted exploratory archaeological work in the two areas of Dove-Myer Robinson Park outlined above. This involved digging a series of test pits to confirm the nature of some subsurface archaeological remains identified during earlier testing conducted using ground penetrating radar.   Approval for this work was granted by Heritage New Zealand and Auckland Council. Representatives from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei blessed the site before work began.

The findings from this exploratory work were largely in line with the archaeologists’ expectations:

  • Near the proposed memorial site, they uncovered the subsurface remains of a pond known to be a part of the Kilbryde House garden. These remains were documented and reburied in accordance with archaeological best practice.
  • Directly within the memorial site they uncovered the remnants of an old road/ track considered most likely to date from the mid-late 19th century prior to the construction of Kilbryde House. It is potentially part of a road/track running from Judges Bay to St Georges Bay. These remnants were documented and reburied.  These remnants had been identified during ground penetrating radar testing but had been thought most likely to be the remains of a garden wall or some other landscaping structure.  This was not the case.
  • Investigations undertaken along the potential temporary access road within the site of the former Kilbryde House were not able to identify any foundation remains of the house.  It is, however, possible that remains survive under the thick compacted layer of fill (c.35cm+) encountered during test excavations.  Subsurface features previously identified through probing are likely to have been tree roots rather than house foundations.

Impact of the proposed memorial works on the subsurface archaeological remnants identified above:

  • The construction works are considered unlikely to affect the pond.  
  • The construction works will result in approximately 30% of the identified extent of this section of the old road/ track being modified (either destroyed or covered with fill).  The archaeologist’s conclusion was that the values of the road/track are primarily historic rather than archaeological as limited information is likely to be obtained through further archaeological investigation.
  • There were no archaeological remnants uncovered along the proposed path of the potential temporary access road.  Although there is potential for intact remains to be present beneath the thick compact layer of fill.  It is considered unlikely that the proposed engineered haul road would have any significant effects on intact subsurface archaeological remains associated with Kilbryde

Please see the full archaeological reports. The documents should be considered together:


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Updated on 15th April 2021