Wine company admits historic site damage

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A Bannockburn winemaking company has pleaded guilty to damaging an archaeological site in Gibbston while building a tasting facility.

Remarkable Wines Ltd, owned by winemaker Richard Guthrey, pleaded guilty to contravening or failing to comply with a condition of an archaeological authority in Queenstown District Court today.

The court heard that Remarkable Wines, which had resource consent to build a wine tasting facility on land next to the historic Gibbston Hotel site, did not adhere to three conditions when it was undertaking earthworks in May last year.

The old Gibbston Hotel site on Coal Pit Road is a recorded archaeological site under the New Zealand Archaelogical Association. The remains of the hotel, built in the 1860s and burnt down in 1912, are next door to the land worked on by Remarkable Wines.

However two stone buildings and two stone walls associated with the hotel are on Remarkable Wines’ land. In 2006 an archaeological assessment identified the possibility of long-drop latrines and rubbish pits of archaeological significance, Crown lawyer Michael Morris says.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust allowed the company to “enable damage or modification of archaeology” at the property, subject to conditions, in January 2011.

The trust advised the company: “The Old Gibbston Hotel complex is significant to the local history of the Otago Goldfields…it is possible rubbish pits and stone paving may be found during the archaeological monitoring.

“The contents of any rubbish pits will provide valuable data on the activities relating to the hotel during its use and will add to the story of the hotel.”

Conditions of earthworks included advising a registered archaeologist of when work would begin, earthworks must be monitored by an archaeologist and any archaeological evidence encountered must be investigated, recorded and analysed – these were not followed.

On May 5, 2011, a regional archaeologist made a random visit to the site and discovered earthworks were underway and Guthrey was present.

Glass, ceramics, pottery and a blacksmiths hammer dating back to the 19th century were found.

The following day the NZHPT wrote to Guthrey and he replied, apologising and admitting the work had been done without supervision.

A charge against Guthrey was withdrawn.

The company will be sentenced on August 13.