Historic Heritage

New Zealand’s historic heritage encompasses a diversity of significant places – historic buildings and structures, archaeological sites, historic sites, coastal sites, historic areas and Māori heritage. Historic heritage is often referred to as historic and cultural heritage. Historic heritage is defined in the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

While many countries manage historic heritage under a centralised government agency, New Zealand’s system involves shared responsibility between central and local government with a range of organisations being involved: Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry for the Environment, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (Heritage New Zealand), local authorities, iwi and hapū, and community groups.

This guidance is designed for local authorities and resource management practitioners. It focusses on the management of historic heritage under the RMA, Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 (Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act 2014). There are also relevant historic heritage-related provisions under the Reserves Act 1977, the Building Act 2004 and the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

The management of historic heritage often involves rules which limit private property rights, or management of public reserves and assets. Good practice in managing New Zealand's historic heritage best occurs through an integrated package including incentives, education, support, and regulation.

Local authorities should have an overarching philosophy and methods for heritage management that are clear and strategically focused. Local authorities should collaborate with the owners of heritage places, tangata whenua, the community and Heritage New Zealand. Additional specialist expertise and involvement will be required at times.

The protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use and development is a matter of national importance under s6(f) of the RMA.

As a matter of national importance, RMA policy and plans must address a number of key matters in order to protect historic heritage. This includes definitions, identification of heritage places and assessment of their heritage values, historic sites, incentives, regulatory controls, and mapping.

For the purposes of policy and plan preparation, the RMA requires local authorities to have regard to any relevant entry in the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero established under the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. Further, local authorities are required to have particular regard to any recommendations from Heritage New Zealand concerning the conservation and protection of a historic area or wāhi tapu area.

One of the drivers behind the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 was to improve collaboration between agencies and improve integration with the RMA. For example, it is intended that information required for a resource consent application under the RMA could also be used for applications for archaeological authorities under the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.

Importantly, care is required about the protection of archaeological sites under the RMA in a manner that avoids regulatory duplication with the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. Generally district plan rules for archaeology should be limited to archaeological sites of high significance having multiple values and ensuring sufficient information is provided to the public (ie, archaeological advice notices) about the archaeological authority process under the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.