Ashburton's Chinese Market Garden declared site of national significance by Heritage New Zealand

A Chinese Market Garden on the outskirts of Ashburton is being declared an archeological site of national significance by Heritage New Zealand on Monday.

The two-hectare site, featuring aging weatherboard and iron buildings, was built in 1921. Ng King Brothers Market Garden was home to five settler families providing the town with fresh fruit and veggies. 

"It was quite amazing how many people were living here, I understand it was up to 60 people," Ashburton councillor Leen Braam told Newshub.

The market gardening business wound up in the 1960s, the families ensuring the buildings didn't go to wrack and ruin.

"This one is special because it's got the buildings as well as the archeology around it," says Frank van der Heijden from Heritage NZ.

"About half the buildings are still there and we know what they were used for - in combination with the archeology below the ground, we can tell the story really well."

Descendants of the five original families attended a special ceremony at the site on Sunday.

The job of ensuring its future is now in the hands of the Ashburton District Council.

"If you see how it's been built, and it still stands - it's just amazing. It's great we can preserve it and do something with it now," says Braam.

This special part of Ashburton's history will now be kept safe for the rest of time.