National | Gisborne

Wooden object 'taonga' discovered at Gisborne Airport Terminal

Gisborne Airport new development underway during 'taonga' discovery. Photo / File

Heritage New Zealand and a hapū of Rongowhakaata have assembled at Gisborne Airport after contractors working on the new extended terminal have uncovered part of a wooden object that may be a historic taonga.

Eastland Group who are currently building the new terminal held a karakia performed by members of the mana whenua Ngāi Tawhiri hapu this morning before inspections and investigations got underway.

“Airport operators Eastland Group are working with Ngāi Tāwhiri, who hold mana whenua over the area, and Heritage New Zealand, to follow the correct process for discoveries such as this,” an Eastland Group spokesperson says.

Extracting the wooden 'taonga' has not been conducted yet on site. Photo / File

Work continues on the new terminal as the find is outside the main terminal footprint. Regional infrastructure company Eastland Group operates Gisborne Airport on behalf of the Gisborne District Council who own the facility.

They are building the new terminal in two stages – while keeping the airport operating. The second and final stage is due to be completed later in 2020.

The terminal is being developed in collaboration with Ngāi Tāwhiri, who hold mana whenua over the area.

The new terminal is being funded by Eastland Group ($2 million), their shareholder, regional development rōpū Trust Tairāwhiti ($5 million), and the Provincial Growth Fund ($5.5 million).

Gisborne Airport. Photo / File

Ng`ai Tāwhiri representatives aren’t ready to comment yet until they know more about the discovery.

“Representatives from Eastland Group, Ngai Tāwhiri and Heritage New Zealand were all on site. Once they know more, a way forward will be agreed, and they will share an update.”