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Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill introduced

A bill that improves the governance and operation of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust was introduced to Parliament has been introduced to Parliament by Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson.

The bill replaces, and modernises the intent of, the Historic Places Act to improve the regulatory framework for archaeological heritage, and improve the balance between heritage interests, private ownership interests and economic development objectives.

The Bill:

  • clarifies the purpose of the Trust, by reforming its governance arrangements, focusing the organisation on its regulatory functions, and re-naming it Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga; and
  • reforms archaeological consenting, to improve the efficiency and transparency of the consenting process.

Mr Finlayson said the bill is the result of three years’ work, and commended the work of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in looking strategically at its future and its role throughout this process.

“This bill will strengthen the Trust’s governance, clarify its regulatory role, and streamline its activity in relation to archaeological sites,” Mr Finlayson said.

The bill provides reform of the archaeological consenting process through:

  • reducing maximum timeframes to process consents, aligning them with relevant timeframes for progressing resource consents under the Resource Management Act;
  • a simplified application process for proposals that have only a minor effect on archaeology;
  •  Heritage New Zealand being required to consult on and publish its policy for administering the Act’s archaeological consenting processes;
  • a separate emergency authority process, which was agreed following the September 2010 Canterbury earthquake. This process will apply in the event of natural disasters that cause, or are likely to cause, loss of life, injury or serious damage to property, and will significantly reduce the time limit on application turnaround.

The Māori Heritage Council remains in place as part of the governance structure of Heritage New Zealand. Its role has been expanded, and it will now be consulted on all applications to modify archaeological sites that are of interest to Māori.

Mr Finlayson also announced that the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will now begin a review of registration, reporting back early next year so that it can feed into the bill at select committee stage, to ensure that:

  • New Zealand has a co-ordinated and efficient system for historic heritage identification, and
  • priority is given to identifying and protecting places of greatest importance to New Zealand.

Mr Finlayson said that he expected the Bill to have positive impacts for the Trust and for those who deal with it on a day-to-day basis.

Updated on 23rd July 2015