28 Nov 2012

Antique dealer disputes sentence for digging site

8:29 am on 28 November 2012

Hamilton antiques dealer Adam Archer says the sentence given to him for tampering with an archaeological site is unfair

Mr Archer pleaded guilty after he was caught digging in the old Hamilton Club site in February without archaeological authority.

He was fined $15,000 at the Hamilton District Court on Tuesday and ordered to pay $2500 in costs to the Historic Places Trust.

Mr Archer told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the site had been heavily bulldozed and he thought workers were clearing up a 1920s rubbish tip.

He says he took nothing he could have sold, and he has been lobbying for changes to the Act under which he was charged.

The Historic Places Trust said the sentence was appropriate. In a statement, it said some of the archaeological features found at the Hamilton Club site date from the 1860s-70s and reveal information on the early days of commerce in Hamilton.

Other features uncovered relate to pre-European Maori use of the site including 18 rua (storage pits) and other gardening soil features.

Excavation work on such sites needs to be done in such a way that the context of artefacts is carefully recorded, the trust said, and when people dig in archaeological sites illegally it contaminates evidence.