Historic find at landmark Tauranga CBD development site


Archaeological investigations at the site of the new Northern Quarter commercial development in the Tauranga CBD have unearthed a significant pounamu toki, that may predate AD1500.

The pounamu toki (adze) was found last month on the first day of archaeological investigations on the site of the new multimillion dollar JWL Investments Northern Quarter stage 1 development that will feature premium grade office, commercial and hospitality space between Harington and Hamilton Streets on the Tauranga waterfront.

Ken Phillips, Archaeology Consultant with Archaeologists BOP, says the adze is a rare find.

“Because the CBD and particularly The Strand was the location of early Māori settlement and cultivation, we anticipated finding evidence of this activity. However, the style of the adze suggests it is very old – probably pre AD1500. It is a very significant taonga.”

Ngai Tamarawaho spokesperson, Buddy Mikaere, says they were contacted immediately when the pounamu toki was found.

“The adze find is a reminder of the traditional and cultural importance of this part of Tauranga. An adze like this would have been a truly valuable possession and probably had a ceremonial function in addition to its everyday use as a woodworking tool. I would love to know how it came to be here. The site is not far from the Taumatakahawai pā site (Monmouth Redoubt) and the small beach below which is where the Takitimu ancestral waka – canoe – is said to have landed.”

Ken says the adze has been sent to Auckland for expert analysis before being returned to the hapu and it will be up to Ngai Tamarawaho to determine an appropriate location to house the adze.

“It is likely to be loaned to JWL Investments for display in their new building, along with other historic items recovered from the site,” says Buddy, “We have had a very good working relationship with JWL over the years. The proposed display would be a nice way of acknowledging that link.”

Ken says they hope to find further archaeological features and artefacts before the completion of site investigations later this month.

“Early European commercial development commenced along the Strand and Harrington Street in the early 1860s. Archaeological evidence of this activity has also been found during our investigations. The toki and associated Māori archaeological features reinforces the significance of this area to local Ngai Tamarawaho who have settled and cultivated the Te Papa peninsula for 700 years or more.”

With construction scheduled to commence in January 2023, following the completion of Archaeological site testing and ground improvement works, JWL Investments Project Lead Jason Addison says the Northern Quarter will be a landmark development for the CBD.

“This site has been in JWL Investments hands for years. We wanted to create something iconic and befitting its prime location. The design reflects the connection to Tauranga Moana and the heritage of the site. It’s a nod to the past, to the heritage of the site, yet at the same time a high-quality future proofed design that embraces the future. We have achieved a landmark design that captures a docklands feel with contemporary design elements. It will look good today and, in many years to come.”

Project partners JWL Investments and First Principles Architects & Interiors are targeting a 5 Star Green Star rating for the project.

“When our project partners, First Principles Architects & Interiors, first shared their drawings for the development with us they spoke of wanting to create a development that is intrinsically linked to the earth and sea, almost rising out of the ground,” says Jason. “There’s a lot to consider when it comes to creating healthy, sustainable spaces and we’re pretty excited with what we are achieving with this development. From the building materials to the floor plan we’ve taken a holistic approach to ensure our environmental impacts are low and the sustainability and durability of our materials is to an exemplary standard. It’s a durable, iconic building for the people and the city.”

The development features four main street frontages, office space that nurtures people’s fundamental needs, luxurious harbour views and hospitality spaces.

“The development also features a significant outdoor courtyard area that is north facing, which is pretty unique for the city centre.” explains Jason. “The public and tenants from the Northern Quarter will be able to enjoy all day sun in this landscaped area making the Northern Quarter not just a building, but a destination in the CBD”.

“At JWL Investments we invest in property for the long term. We don’t design, build, tenant and sell. We believe in investing in durable, exciting and unique developments for the city that we can proudly own for years to come.”

The stage 1 Northern Quarter development is set for completion by mid-2024. Stage 2 of the development is in the design phase.

Project timeline:

  • Aug/Sept 2022 – Archaeological site testing
  • Mid Sept – Demolition works
  • Early Oct – Ground improvement works
  • Jan 2023 – Physical construction commences
  • Completion – Mid 2024

For more information please contact:

Jason Addison – Project Lead, JWL Investments E: jason@jwlinvestments.co.nz M: 021 546 078
Ken Phillips – Archaeology Consultant, Archaeology BOP E: kjs.phillips@xtra.co.nz M: 027 276 9919

About JWL Investments

JWL Investments is an independently administered property trust. Recent city centre developments have included The Reserve, corner Willow & Harington Streets, The Lofts, on The Strand, Cityside Business Village, Hamilton Street and the Gate Pa Shopping Centre. The 5,500sqm Northern Quarter stage 1 development will comprise a mix of A-grade office, commercial and hospitality space between Harington and Hamilton Streets on the Tauranga waterfront. The 5 Star Green Star rating development also includes a 15m outdoor courtyard area for both tenants and public use, with a unique north facing aspect to capture all day sun.

The Northern Quarter development