The present as the past's future : the heritage significance of foundation deposits and time capsules in Christchurch : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Museum Studies at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand
Foundation deposits and time capsules (collectively deposits) are hidden vessels containing
purposefully gathered objects to be opened in the future. This thesis examines the
importance of this type of artefact within a heritage significance evaluation methodology.
Deposits are of interest as they are a representative record of their time selected by
communities for preservation. They have not been thematically identified or considered for
protection by territorial authorities and therefore are not listed in District Plans.
This thesis focuses on deposits at two different locations, the Godley Statue and the Sumner
Borough Council Chambers, which were exposed as a result of the Canterbury Earthquakes
2010-11. It also focuses on the modern deposits that were subsequently placed at these
sites. In considering these objects this research asks how are these deposits valued and
how does this contribute to their significance. The aims of this study are to determine the
values associated with these deposits and critically appraise the effectiveness of a territorial
heritage assessment method.
The research is based on reviewing archival documents, historic records and ceremonial
speeches along with an examination and assessment of the objects. The contemporary
importance of the object’s is understood through interviewing individuals who had
experiential knowledge. The ceremonial speeches and interviews are analysed using an
inductive reasoning and adapted grounded theory approach to elicit a core value.
This research demonstrates that a participatory process contributes to a greater
understanding of New Zealand’s heritage that may not be immediately obvious. It
establishes that deposits are valorised and justify increased attention as they have the
potential to afford insight into the past, the present and the future. As a result it is essential
that they are understood before they are responded to. Further it was found deposits
challenge traditional heritage practice. This research suggests increased attention is
required towards assessing social values and to evaluating them as a separate criterion.