Box of family memorabilia lost on an Auckland motorway is returned to its owner


The NZ Transport Agency has reunited a box of family memorabilia lost on an Auckland motorway with its owner.

Michael Land says he was extremely grateful to get back the box of family photographs and documents because they were irreplaceable.

“I didn’t realise I’d lost the box but I recognised the photo of it as soon as I saw it in the media.”

“The box must have fallen off the back of a truck moving household goods from Pakuranga to Kumeu.”

The A4 sized box was crammed full of valuables that gave a pictorial record of Mr Land’s childhood and family history. It included a wartime letter of condolence from King George V1 after the death of his grandfather, who was a flying officer.

The box was found on the Northwestern Motorway near the Great North Road Interchange just over two weeks ago after an Incident Response Crew from the Waterview Tunnel went to investigate reports of debris in a traffic lane.

“The box was just sitting there in the live lane. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic at the time,“ says Incident Response team leader Mel Stack.

“There was nothing on the box to secure the lid so it’s just luck that its contents weren’t blown all over the motorway.“

He took the box back to the depot and, with other Operations Centre staff, began looking for clues to track down its owner.

“I even took the box to a house in Mt Roskill that we identified in one of the photos. It turned out it had been Mr Land’s old family home but they’d moved away years ago.”

Mr Land thanked the Incident Response team for taking care of his valuables and trying to find him.

“I’m very grateful for what they did.”

David Barron, Waterview Tunnel Operations Manager says the crew often investigate reports of debris on the motorway, but it’s unusual to find something so valuable and actually find its owner.

“Our people worked hard to solve this and we needed to go out to the wider public in the end to try to track down the owners, but it worked and we’re very pleased.”

Memorabilia returned

Michael Land (right) with his box of memorabilia and Mel Stack (left), from the Incident Response Crew at Waterview Tunnel who found the box on the SH16 motorway.