Out of the ashes: free talk on McCormick's Cottage

Tuesday 14 April 2009, 2:58PM
By Auckland Regional Council

A public lunchtime talk focusing on the archaeological investigation of a West Auckland landmark will take place on April 17 to mark the International Day for Monuments and Sites (also known as World Heritage Day).

Archaeologist Dr Matthew Felgate will look at some of the processes and methods he and his team used when investigating McCormick’s Cottage on the Te Atatu Peninsula after it burned down in 2007.

“As well as talking about our processes, I’ll be looking at the sort of analysis that can be applied to materials recovered from sites – including some of the results we obtained from the McCormick’s Cottage excavation,” says Dr Felgate.

“When a historic building cannot be conserved for future generations, investigation of the fabric of the building using archaeological techniques can offer new insights into the history and use of a place – and that was certainly the case with this building,” he says.

Close investigation of the remains of the house confirmed what some people had long suspected – that elements of the 19th century bach had been built from timber salvaged from an early New Zealand vessel.

“It was certainly fascinating to unpick the layers of construction of this house – and a great example of how this particular branch of archaeology can uncover so much information about the building, the people who lived there, and the times in which they were living.”

The International Day for Monuments and Sites is a celebration supported by ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and UNESCO.

The theme of this year’s World Heritage Day, appropriately enough, is Heritage and Science – and Dr Felgate believes the archaeological investigation of McCormick’s Cottage was an effective blend of both.

“The investigation was a joint initiative between the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and Waitakere City Council, and incorporated information supplied by many individuals and groups in the community,” says Dr Felgate.

“With this support we were able to employ scientific and investigative methods that shed new light on the construction and history of this building, and also allowed us to accurately record it for future generations.”

This event is being organized by the NZHPT, Auckland Regional Council and Waitakere City Council.

Don’t miss Dr Matthew Felgate on ‘McCormick’s Cottage, Te Atatu – The Archaeology of Rural Auckland Between the Long Recession and the Great War.

April 17, 12.30-1.30pm, Pioneer Women’s Hall, Freyberg Square, Auckland City.

Admission free but register with Rebecca Harfield on 09 366 2000 x 8482 or