New Zealand Historic Places Trust warns tourists: Hands off artefacts

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Holidaymakers should resist taking human remains, or any archeological find, home as a souvenir, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust warns.

New Zealand forest The trust’s senior archaeologist, Rick McGovern-Wilson, said today people who found artefacts during their holidays often took them home.

“The New Year period is great for families to head to the beach, go camping or visit places off the beaten track.

“There will be times when archaeological artefacts are unearthed either through an act of nature or people being inquisitive and, unfortunately, fossicking.”

Artefacts were historically significant and people should leave them untouched and notify the trust, Dr McGovern-Wilson said.

If people found human remains they should contact the police as soon as possible.

An historic artefact “lost its context” once it was removed from a site and any other artefacts nearby could also be damaged.

“There are also cultural sensitivities to be aware of. That interesting piece of bone you come across could be human remains, and more than likely Maori.”

Artefacts should be treated with respect and left for police, IWI, the trust or other experts to remove.

The Historic Places Act defines an archaeological site as any place in New Zealand that was associated with human activity before 1900 that can be investigated with archaeological techniques.

Many people were unaware it was an offence to remove archeological material and they could face prosecution, he said.

“Unfortunately there is the common misconception that if you find an artefact it belongs to you,” he said.


Source: TVNZ [January 12, 2011]


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