Human jawbone found in Nelson estuary

8:57 pm on 10 January 2017

Police are confident that a human jawbone found in a Nelson estuary is not linked to any open investigation or missing-person case.

The human jawbone found at low tide in a Nelson estuary.

The human jawbone was found near Nelson Airport on New Year's Day. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

A local resident found the lower jawbone, with a near complete set of teeth, while walking in a section of the Waimea Inlet west of Nelson Airport on New Year's Day.

The police said officials would assess the bone to determine its age and ethnicity.

The woman who found it said she was walking around the airport walkway and, because it was low tide, dropped down onto the beach and walked around a peninsula opposite Point Rd in the suburb of Monaco.

The jawbone was fully exposed in the sand, and the teeth indicated it was human. She phoned the police non-emergency number and offered to email an image, but was told there was no one available to help.

Police asked her to bring it into the Nelson station, she said.

A police spokesperson told RNZ they would generally advise people who found an object or remnant like this to leave it where it was and report it to them.

They said it was not the first human bone to be found in the area. A similar remnant was found about two years ago in the same area, identified as Māori and reburied by DOC and local iwi.

"Police have made enquiries relating to the bone and are satisfied it is historic and not linked to any open investigation or missing person," the spokesperson said.

"Department of Conservation specialists will now assess the jawbone to determine age and ethnicity. If it is found to be Māori they will work with the local iwi to arrange an appropriate reburial."