2021: A Busy Year

If there was one word to describe 2021, then it would be busy! It’s been a hectic year on all fronts this year. Thinking back to March-April we were definitely like ships in the night, with everyone coming and going from different sites. Even Clara and Kirsa were both covering multiple sites- something that never happens! We had a wee reprieve from fieldwork in the middle of year, but made up for it with assessments. And then had the same pattern over the latter half of the year- with lots of fieldwork around September and October and lots of assessments the past couple of months. While it made for a full on year, it did mean that there was plenty of opportunities for lots of photos.

Smiles all round before a big survey.

Jamie and Rebecca pausing their survey to pose.

Clara contorts her body to shade the feature- the technical term for this is “throwing shade”

Neda takes a break mid half-section to show off her finds.

Jamie and Neda are 10/10 so happy about the number of rubbish pits and features that were at this site.


What’s this? A shoe? Rebecca really taking the time to appreciate the artefacts coming out of the site.

A common theme this year, car boots filled up with artefacts.

Jamie and Neda explored new excavation techniques like digging with your eyes shut and digging upside down and sharing the spading.

Kirsa stoked with her feature.


Tristan, Carly and Alana enjoyed some well deserved ice creams after a tough day digging.

Rebecca and Neda demonstrating their fantastic bandaging skills on their first aid course- if anyone gets hurt we’ll be in safe hands.

Tristan demonstrated stone tool making for us.

Kirsa made sure to protect the plants during our earthquake drill.

Rebecca and Neda are still smiling despite the rapidly fading light as the digger continues to excavate late.

Jamie stands beside the now demolished St Mary’s Church in Pleasant Point.

A big milestone was the repealing of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act at the end of June. We spent a good chunk of the first half of the year applying for general authorities for clients who had earthquake authorities with ongoing site works, or monitoring works for clients who were trying to get their projects finished before the legislation ended. For those of the team who were around in the heyday of the post-earthquake boom, it was a time to reflect back on when they used to be sent lists of hundreds of sites to appraise, and spent their days going site-to-site recording constant pre-1900 building demolitions and monitoring foundation removals.

A well deserved wine for these five (and for all the ex-UOA staff who also worked through the earthquake period).

We had four students work with us this year as part of the PACE internship program through the University of Canterbury. The students assisted Clara with cataloguing artefacts, wrote blog posts and helped put together exhibitions. It’s been great to see the interns develop their skills and to learn a bit about archaeology, and hopefully they’ll be able to use the experience in their future careers. We’ve also been able to offer one of them, Naquita, a part time job with us following on from her internship.

Three of our four interns from this year- Rosie, Alethea and Naquita.

Speaking of exhibitions, we had some good ones this year. For this year’s Archaeology Week, we had an exhibition of a doctor’s assemblage. Clara also spoke on the assemblage at a series of talks organised for Archaeology Week, and more recently presented on it at this year’s Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology conference (it’s been her favourite site of the year if you can’t tell). If you missed seeing it, there’s a summary of the talk here. For Heritage Festival we had another exhibition that was centred around the various types of artefacts found on archaeological sites in Christchurch. Our fabulous intern Alethea put together a website to accompany the exhibition (as well as doing most of the hard yards in terms of putting the exhibition together), and you can see that here if you missed it earlier in the year.

Clara speaking on her medical site as part of Beneath Our Feet: Archaeological Stories of Place, an event held for the 2021 Archaeology Week.

As has probably been a theme for most people this year, Covid has cast a shadow over the year. We’ve been pretty lucky to escape the worst of it being in Christchurch, but our lockdown did lead to some serious malaise.

Covid cat says wear your masks folks!

This year’s been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of projects. There’s been lots and lots and lots of drains and roading jobs and other infrastructure projects. These types of sites are interesting in a big picture way, when we take what we’ve learnt from all the individual sites and look at the infrastructure from 19th century Christchurch and what it can tell us about the infrastructure of a 19th century city, but are perhaps less interesting when you’re standing on the side of a road staring at a drain. We’ve had our usual rebuild and inner city development projects, which are always good for learning more about domestic life in 19th century Christchurch. And we’ve also been doing assessments and carrying out enabling and investigative works for some of the final big inner city projects. We’ve already found some extremely cool things on these projects, but have yet to really share those publicly as we’re saving them for exhibitions and displays that will hopefully happen next year or the year after. Looking at the calendar though, 2022 is going to be a really good year and we’ve got some exciting stuff in the pipeline.

A few favourite finds from the year.

With every year we welcome new people, and say goodbye to others. Neda, who interned with us last summer, employed the excellent job-obtaining technique of just never leaving once summer finished, and is now a full-time member of our team (as you might have already gathered from her photo-ops earlier on in the blog) We then sadly said goodbye to Angel, our Uncle Bulgaria, who was one of our main field archaeologists and always good at coming out with the best one-liners in the office. Next we welcomed Nigel from Australia. Nigel managed to time his starting at the company with a sudden spate of night works, which, with being the new guy, he of course got assigned to and is now known as Ole’ Night Works Nigel. Following Nigel we welcomed Carly and then Alana to the office. Carly has worked in America and Auckland previously, and brought some “wild” habits with her, like drinking a can of V before 9am, but also brings a lot of field experience as well as being a lovely person. Alana had been previously working mainly in Kaikōura and was extremely excited to dig her first historic rubbish pit on her second day of working with us. And today we say goodbye to Michael and Megan. Megan’s been with us since December 2014- meaning she’s worked with us for seven years! She’s done a lot over that time- lots of the work at the port and the various infrastructure jobs that took place under SCIRT. She’s been a team leader and has mentored a lot of our new staff members over the past few years. She’s a genuinely wonderful person and a great archaeologist and we’re really going to miss her!

We hope everyone has a great Christmas break and we’ll be back in February with more blogs on Christchurch archaeology. Byyyyyeeeee.

Underground Overground Archaeology

1 thought on “2021: A Busy Year

  1. Merry Christmas to the aye maze zing arr key olo gist mob who can be oft times discovered scurrying about bellow the Sir Phayse.
    Looking forward to further frolickings in 2022.
    Good to read of all these flowing throughs over the years. So many have been impacted by your individual & teamwork
    Thank you for all you do.
    Like is said:-
    It’s not so much the destination, but rather the journey.

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