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Wellington land records enlivened by IT tool

Apr 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News

mainA MAPPING tool recording layers of Maori land information is shedding new light on Wellington’s past.

A geographic information system (GIS), initiated by Wellington Tenths executive officer Liz Mellish and former Wellington Regional Council Maori liaison officer Tracey Whare, land can be matched with owners easily and details recorded systematically.

While the main purpose of GIS is to track the history of the whenua (people), it also serves as background information to Resource Management Act decisions on urban developments, Ms Mellish says. 

A collective effort by Wellington City, Lower Hutt City and Greater Wellington Council, the GIS serves as an interactive atlas.  Details include contours and coordinates, how the lands were obtained from Maori, original owners and various historical records.

The information on GIS shows spatially through maps where people lived, buried their dead in waahi tapu sites, where they cultivated rongoa (medicines), collected kai and lived in pa sites, she says.

One such discovery led to the revelation of Te Aro pa, in Taranaki St, where developers worked with council and iwi to preserve their archaeological findings in a small public gallery. 

The examination of the site unearthed three phases of settlements: Te Aro pa, subsequent European occupation of the late 19th century and features relating to the early 20th century bakery building.

“This [GIS] has meant we could overlay what now exists and what existed previously,” says Ms Mellish.  

Although the interactive atlas is available only to Maori Land Records, Land Information New Zealand, the participating councils and Wellington Tenths Trust beneficiaries, she hopes it will be made available to the public soon. 

The trust and the councils were assisted by Canadian First Nations students Peter Waadenburge and Leslie Lebourdis in the GIS development. 

Wellington Tenths staff were also sent to Massey University to upskill in using the GIS resource. 

PICTURE: Wellington terrain information revealed.

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