Digging Deeper

The main wastewater pipes in our street date back to the 1870s and an archaeologist is on site while they are excavated and replaced.

The lateral pipes (leading into each house) are more recent. The one into my house is dated at around 1920. The cap on it was replaced yesterday with a PVC one.

A neighbour who had problems with his pipes, was very relieved (excuse that dreadful pun) to have his 1940s pipe replaced, as it turned out to be broken – probably in the earthquakes.

The street which was repaired before ours (Ranfurly Street) yielded a stash of French champagne bottles which, the worker I spoke to believed, had been used (recycled) for home brew. They were found on the former site of a 16 hectare farm of which only the house remains.

This is fascinating stuff. It reminds me of the broken ancient (well, old) glass and crockery which has emerged from a corner of the garden near the street since new fences were built. It still comes up to the surface mysteriously from time to time. This is the most interesting of the crockery:

Someone must have been upset when this was broken.

A recent exhibition at Tūranga, the main library, featured excavated items from the shops which used to line Gloucester Street. The post-earthquake rebuild of the central city and, lately, the construction of Te Pae, the convention centre, have kept archaeologists busy. China and glass fragments have been pieced together to give an insight into the past – what you might have seen if you had looked through the shop window.

The work on our street is only going as far as the intersection adjacent to our house. If they find original brick wastewater structures it will take longer to replace. So we may be in for more entertainment yet!


From my window I can see a large yellow digger, a port-a-loo, temporary fencing, and colourful bunting warning of overhead wires. There are men – and an occasional woman – in hi-vis jackets, hard hats and ear muffs. Our street is closed for wastewater drainage replacement.

Since mid-June, the work has moved up the street towards our house. My car must remain in the garage until the work moves past us and the fences are removed. There are some heart-stopping moments when the digger arm touches the bunting as the driver negotiates our narrow street.

However, the site is carefully managed, efficient and tidy. Yesterday, the power pole outside our gate was secured by a huge concrete block at the base and a hook and chain at the top.

This morning, they have dug up the footpath and part of our berm. A huge vacuum truck made a lot of noise right outside our window for a while. See how they have carefully dug under the kerb and under the lawn edging. I wonder if they’ve saved the piece of turf to put back afterwards.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo three days ago when it occurred to me that this event might be worth recording. The process is quite fascinating. From the tin lid, it looks as if a sealer is being applied. Nearby, another worker was cutting lengths of pipe.

What do they see down there?