Identify areas of high, medium and low archaeological interest in greater Christchurch to inform project planning during the rebuild.

Lead agencies

Heritage New Zealand

Key partners

MCH, Ngāi Tahu, CERA, CCC

Project outcome

The early identification of sites of archaeological interest assists project planning and facilitates the processing of archaeological authorities (consents) under the Historic Places Act 1993 (HPA) (recently replaced by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014).


The HPA required anyone wishing to damage, destroy or modify an archaeological site, including a pre-1900 building, to first obtain an archaeological authority from Heritage New Zealand. Under the HPA, Heritage New Zealand had three months to process an application for an archaeological authority, and could extend the timeframe by up to another three months in some instances. These timeframes could delay rebuilding. In 2010 the government implemented an Order in Council that established emergency archaeological authorities. This Order in Council has been continued under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, which recently replaced the HPA. Under the Order in Council, Heritage New Zealand is required to process emergency archaeological authorities in much quicker timeframes than standard archaeological authorities (three to five days).

Heritage New Zealand is further managing the risks of delays by developing a predictive model for land within the four avenues that identifies areas of likely archaeological interest. There is an opportunity to expand this predictive model to cover the whole of greater Christchurch.

What has happened

Heritage New Zealand’s predictive model has been informed by the approximately 600 emergency archaeological authorities it has granted within the four avenues. The model:

  • gives owners, developers and planners greater certainty about the likely location of archaeological sites by differentiating between areas of high, medium and low archaeological interest
  • helps ensure efficient, targeted processing of archaeological authorities.

What will happen

Heritage New Zealand will:

  • investigate extending the predictive model through research into known areas of archaeological interest
  • adopt a theme-based approach to mapping
  • inform key stakeholders of the predictive model and promote access to information
  • work with landowners where sites are discovered to ensure that:
    • sites are fully documented
    • where feasible, artefacts are retrieved and deposited with appropriate repositories
    • owners are informed of any legal obligations.

CERA will:

  • work with Heritage New Zealand to investigate opportunities to extend the predictive model to the rest of greater Christchurch.

CCC, SDC and WDC will:

  • provide support and promote access to information through early contact with developers.

Indicative timeframe

Extend the predictive model if and when required.

Updated on 23rd July 2015