Protection of heritage


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Number and types of authorities (consents) granted by New Zealand Historic Places Trust to modify, disturb or destroy heritage sites 


Purpose of indicator

Heritage is a finite resource which gives a place a sense of history and character. Monitoring how and why heritage sites are impacted gives an indication of the recognition and protection placed on heritage so that it is retained for future generations.


Current information and trend

There have been very few sites impacted since State of the Environment monitoring began for this indicator in 2001. These are shown in figure 1. Those reported here are known sites for which permission was sought to modify, disturb or destroy. In the event that an unknown site is uncovered during excavation or any other work, by law work must stop immediately and New Zealand Historic Places Trust must be notified and permission to continue works sought.

There are many unknown archaeological sites throughout the district, particularly within the Lakes A Zone where ash and mud covering, and elevated lake levels caused by the Mt. Tarawera eruption of 6th June 1886, covered villages and killed a number of people. There are still people unaccounted for from the eruption. This presents an issue for district and regional councils and tangata whenua when applications for consent are made for earthworks or development. Over the years earthworks have uncovered human remains that were not known to be there. In these cases tangata whenua and New Zealand Historic Places Trust were informed and appropriate protocols took place.

The majority of instances where sites are modified, disturbed or destroyed are to allow new development or for forestry harvesting. Subdivision is the reason for 16% of cases, road re-alignment 11% and improvement of a historic site and tourism operations 5% equally (figure 2).

No heritage buildings have been demolished or lost since 2007. The last heritage building to be demolished was Pukeroa Cottage on Hospital Hill, in 2002. A cottage of a similar age and style remains near to the site where Pukeroa Cottage stood.

The Rotorua Museum (formerly the Rotorua Bath House) has been developed and extended to reflect the original plans for the building. It was only partially constructed when it opened in 1908. The original specifications of the building proposed by balneologist A.S. Wohlman and architect B.S. Corlett included an extreme northern end and a southern wing. To realise the original plans a development project consisting of three stages was carried out. Stage 1 of the project saw the Viewing Platform on the northern end completed in March 2006. Stage 2 was the Northern Wing extension which opened in November 2008. The final and largest of the construction stages was the south wing, named the Don Stafford Wing in honour of the late Rotorua historian who passed away in 2010. The Don Stafford Wing opened in September 2011.

The Rotorua Operative District Plan is currently being reviewed, including all heritage items. Research and better quality information will revisit the protection of heritage sites listed which will be published in the Proposed Rotorua District Plan. They will be reported in future State of the Environment reporting. One example where a heritage site was protected and enhanced through the District Plan was the Maori reserve pa site of Ngati Kea and Ngati Tuara. As part of the Eastgate Parklands Estate subdivision in 2006 the pa site was protected, fenced and landscaped, and access was provided for iwi. Prior to the subdivision the pa site was landlocked and had no access.

In 2011 the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill was introduced to replace the Historic Places Act 1993. The bill seeks to change the name of the Historic Places Trust to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (Heritage NZ). While the intent of the legislation remains the same, the bill enables Heritage NZ to enter into a covenant with landowners and authorities for exploration to determine if a site is an archaeological site. Processes and timeframes should be streamlined by the bill, and vexatious applications for registration of places can be rejected.

Graph showing the number and types of known sites impacted by activities
Figure 1: Source: New Zealand Historic Places Trust, 2011
Chart of reasons for disturbance of a site
Figure 2: Source: New Zealand Historic Places Trust, 2011

In Summary

  • Few known heritage sites are modified, disturbed or destroyed
  • No heritage buildings have been demolished since reporting in 2007 
  •  Main reasons for modification, disturbance or destruction of a site are for development, tree harvesting or subdivision.

Page reviewed: 03 Jul 2019 10:11am