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Digging deep: Jan Morrison returns to historic Coopers Terrace this summer with new authority to break ground

By CASS MARRETT

Former Arrowtowner Jan Morrison’s ecstatic to be returning to the village’s historic Cooper’s Terrace site this summer.

Last month, Mountain Scene reported Morrison, a former archaeological artist who’s retired in Tauranga, was desperate to continue uncovering and preserving the site, but lost her accommodation option in town.

Following the article, in which Morrison appealed for some kind of house-sitting arrangement, she received an email offer to house-sit locally.

‘‘It’s just perfect … absolutely fantastic, I’m very lucky,’’ she says.

She’s recently been granted permission from the archaeological authority to break ground at the site where previously she was only allowed to clear vegetation.

‘‘I’ll be excavating the existing structures further for the first time, so it’s quite exciting.’’

The main area Morrison’s working on comprises three stone huts and a garden wall with a stone entranceway to a compound inside.

‘‘[I’m] anticipating uncovering the true height of the walls — at present what we see above ground is only half of the story — we are literally walking on over a century of leaf drop which could be at least 0.5m deep.’’

Arriving on January 18, she’ll spend two months clearing further vegetation and ‘‘sift through dirt’’.

She’s still working on nominating Cooper’s Tce to the national register of Historic Places and to have it included in the Queenstown council’s district plan, which will help with funding opportunities.

Having worked on the site for the last 10 years, she’s heartened by new volunteer queries and the ability to dig for the first time, ‘‘it’s a big thing actually’’.

‘‘Now that now that I’m able to investigate the ruins deeper at a decent level … that opens it wide open, I suppose.’’

cass.marrett@scene.co.nz