Evidence of the Working of Greenstone by Taranaki Maori Prisoners in the Dunedin Gaol
Keywords:Gaol, jail, greenstone, pounamu, Parihaka, Dunedin
During 2001 archaeological investigations were carried out at the Dunedin Law Courts during a restoration and redevelopment project of the historic building complex. The Courts were built in 1900 on the site of the former Dunedin Gaol, where a number of Maori prisoners from Taranaki had been held in 1869-1873 and 1879-1881. In 1891 Judge F.R. Chapman published an account that related how some of these prisoners had worked greenstone in the gaol to make artefacts for sale, and the 2001 archaeological excavation found a small tab of sawn greenstone in one corner of the old exercise yard. The role of these prisoners in building various civil engineering works in Dunedin, including some of the harbour walls, has been well documented, but this small piece of greenstone is tangible evidence of their life within the gaol walls in the 1870s.