Wadestown skull discovery: Wellington resident reports finding human remains in garden
Property in Wadestown, Wellington, where human remains were believed to have been discovered in the garden. Photo / Vita Molyneux
Police are investigating the discovery of possible human remains in a Wellington backyard – discovered while a resident was digging up his garden.
A Wadestown resident wrote on social media that she had discovered what appeared to be a human skull in the garden of her property in Weld St, Wadestown.
‘Police are here because we dug up a human skull and the rest of the body may also be in our garden,’ the resident wrote, adding that the skull appeared to be ‘quite old’.
Crime scene coordinator David Macintosh told the Herald the owner was digging in the garden when they discovered the skull.
“They called the police, we attended and sought confirmation from the anthropologist and pathologist who believe it may be a human skull but cannot determine its age.”
Macintosh confirmed that the skull was not recent and had not been freshly buried. “It’s not a normal thing to find when you dig your garden.”
The owner declined to comment further.
A police spokesman told the Herald the Institute of Environmental Science and Research would analyze the remains.
“Police investigations are ongoing,” the spokesperson said.
Police were still at the scene on Weld St as of 6 p.m. Saturday. Officers could be seen covering part of the backyard with a tarp.
A scene attendant remained in place overnight and police will return today to continue the investigation.
A neighbor told the Herald he saw one or two police officers in the area around 3 p.m. They said the neighborhood was generally very quiet and the landlords who lived there were friendly.
The Weld St resident described the find as “a bit scary”.
“It would be so scary to garden and find something like that.”
Another neighbor told the Herald that the area where the skull was found has been undisturbed for some time, but recently there has been development and tree felling.
“Just kidding, it’s a cold case because this area hasn’t been disturbed for a long time,” she said. “It’s a little scary out there.”
Wadestown is one of Wellington’s oldest suburbs, and the woman says the remains could have been in the garden for years. But a lot of trash is dumped on the side of the ravine, so it could be that too, she theorized.
“It’s definitely kind of weird but really exciting,” she said. “Things aren’t very exciting here – it’s very boring and suburban.”
Neither the president of the Wadestown Residents Association nor the president of the nearby Highland Park Progressive Association knew of the find when contacted by the Herald this evening.
“It’s obviously a surprise to find something like this,” Highland Park Chairman Greg Hyland said. “It’s not something we see every day, thankfully.”
The community has a rich history, with some of Wellington’s earliest settlers establishing estates there before they were parceled out in modern layouts, he said. Hyland said he doesn’t know what the rules would have been for burying his family on his property more than a century ago, but this scenario would be reassuring.
“We’re hoping it’s a very old skull,” he said.
Wadestown, with a population of just under 4,000, was considered Wellington’s first suburb after it was settled by auctioneer John Wade in 1841. The majority of homes in the area were built in the 1920s, with a Median sale price for area homes these days ranges for $1.88 million, according to OneRoof.co.nz.
The street where the remains were found is considered one of the steepest in the area, according to the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.