Two sites were excavated on waterfront town sections in central Wanganui. The block they were located on was one of the original New Zealand Company Town Section divisions and, being close to the river, was a centre for early production and trade in Wanganui. The two areas under focus were one domestic setting – the house of Thomas Bamber and his family – and one primarily commercial setting – that of the Wanganui Hotel and surrounding businesses.
Thomas Bamber was a blacksmith who came to Wanganui in 1856 along with his wife and son. He later became Mayor of Wanganui, between 1878 to 1880. Photographs of early Wanganui show his house on the section clearly. Excavations revealed that a house had existed here before that recognised as Bamber’s house and also that Bamber’s forge, which was recorded as being located adjacent to the house (beyond the excavation area), had existed before either of the other buildings when metal refuse associated with the forge had been disposed of on this site.