The New Zealand earthquake has exposed potentially historic documents hidden inside a 19th century statue that toppled in the disaster.

Christchurch Major Bob Parker said on March 1 that a handwritten parchment in a bottle and a sealed copper cylinder believed to contain documents were discovered inside the statue of the city's founder. The statue is in the city's main square near its historic cathedral. It fell during the February 22 earthquake that killed at least 155 people.

Museum experts were examining the items. They appeared to contain a message from the city's founders expressing their vision for it. Parker said, “It seems almost providential that they have come to light now to provide the inspiration we need in this most difficult time.”

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