Unearthed Ōtākou Exhibition, which showcases some of the archaeological finds from the New Dunedin Hospital site, was made by Otago Polytechnic design intern Best Apisit, with photographs by intern Tom de Silva and words from New Zealand Heritage Properties. The Unearthed Ōtakou exhibition was displayed in the Dunedin Hospital cafe for staff to see.​

Kathryn van Beek assigned this project, which requires displaying artefacts in the cabinet in an engaging and informative way for staff. You can coordinate with the archaeologists to obtain additional artefacts that may be helpful. Additionally, liaising with the cafe would be necessary, and you can receive assistance from Kathryn for this task.


To create an interesting look and feel for the artefacts, you might consider making a poster or digital screens. As you think about the history of the site, remember that it was once seashore before becoming a busy residential area where many working-class people lived. Therefore, there are various images to consider such as seashells, bricks, old villa houses, and 1800s fashion.

Feel free to be as creative as you like. The archaeologists can provide many fascinating stories. For background research, you can listen to a podcast with one of the archaeologists, Te Whatu Ora Southern Health – 10-08-2022, or read about archaeological discoveries on the new Dunedin Hospital site at accessmedia.nz. You can also check out the Facebook page for New Zealand Heritage Properties.


To access the staff cafe, you will require Kathryn’s assistance and her card. Please inform her when you require access.

The new Dunedin hospital project is required to fulfill various heritage conditions as part of its building consent. These include granting archaeologists access to the site and conducting earthworks. The demolition of the central city buildings led to the discovery of several valuable items, including the log books of the former Cadbury factory.


Archaeologists from Heritage Properties Ltd have been conducting excavations on the site, which has been undergoing earthworks and piling for several weeks now, in preparation for the outpatient building. While carrying out their work, they have encountered numerous test pits, but the presence of contaminated soil has made it necessary for them to proceed with caution.


Despite this, they have been able to uncover a diverse range of artifacts, which has helped provide insight into the history of the site. The contracted firm will continue to investigate the site as and when building requirements and safety concerns permit.

The northern site, formerly occupied by Wilson Parking and various small businesses, was mainly residential, with photographs from the 1870s indicating that it was one of the most densely populated blocks in Dunedin at one point. Dr. Naomi Woods, the lead archaeologist, expressed hope that they might be able to pinpoint the earliest European occupation on the site. They have found three stable blocks, as well as lost items like an 1830s coin and old bottles, which have been useful in providing dating evidence.


Thanks to the Burton brothers’ photographs of central Dunedin from the 1870s, combined with Dunedin City Council drainage and rates records, archaeologists have a good idea of who lived in the houses that were demolished and upgraded by the turn of the century. As a result, they are able to develop a clear picture of everyday life in the area around 150 years ago.


While much of what they have found is typical of other sites in Dunedin, the presence of personal items like a pair of shoes with the initials S W on the sole has fueled hope that they may find something that belonged to an individual with a known history in the area.

The Unearthed Ōtakou Exhibition was displayed at the Staff Cafe in Dunedin Hospital. The displays were created using photographs by Tomas de Silva and information provided by the New Zealand Heritage Properties team. To maintain consistency with the Te Whatu Ora Branding, the layout was carefully designed and appropriate colors were selected. For the displays, Adobe Photoshop was used to remove the backgrounds from the photos and Adobe Illustrator for the remaining design elements.

I designed the Unearthed Ōtākou Exhibition project in collaboration with Te Whatu Ora Southern and New Zealand Heritage Properties. The displays were created using photographs taken by Tomas de Silva and information provided by the New Zealand Heritage Properties team.

If you are interested, you can take a virtual tour of the Unearthed Ōtākou Exhibition by visiting the link below or view the exhibition in person at the Staff Cafe in Dunedin Hospital. To access the virtual tour, simply click on the link or scan the QR code provided: https://bit.ly/3VsoG5g

Unearthed Ōtākou Viture Exhibition

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