Identify appropriate repositories for artefacts recovered from archaeological sites.

Lead agencies

Heritage New Zealand

Key partners

CCC, WDC, SDC, MCH, Ngāi Tahu

Project outcome

Recovered artefacts are stored and conserved in appropriate locations and repositories.


Many artefacts have been recovered in greater Christchurch as a result of the numerous archaeological investigations. They are stored temporarily in a variety of private, local and central government locations, including the Air Force Museum, Wigram.

A suitably qualified team needs to determine what should be kept, and identify an appropriate storage and holding repository. There are issues nationally concerning the storage of objects uncovered through archaeological investigations. This project will be a valuable case study.

What has happened

In February 2013, a Cultural Collections Recovery Centreopened at the Air Force Museum, Wigram. The Centre is an extension to existing facilities at the Museum and provides temporary storage for earthquake-displaced cultural objects in one secure location. Its establishment is a critical first step in safeguarding artefacts. The Museum will make the Cultural Collections Recovery Centreavailable for earthquake recovery for three years. The Recovery Centre received $2 million from MCH and $2 million from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust. Many of the earthquake-displaced archaeological collections are temporarily being housed in containers at the Air Force Museum awaiting assessment.

In some cases Heritage New Zealandrequires management plans as a condition of an archaeological authority (consent to destroy, damage or modify an archaeological site). Recently, Heritage New Zealand’s Southern Regional Office has begun specifying that management plans must provide for management and safe-keeping of artefacts.

Canterbury Museum is consulting with Heritage New Zealandon the Museum’s Archaeology Collecting Policy.

What will happen

Heritage New Zealand will:

  • provide project management to:
    • identify and involve key partners and heritage professionals in this project (for example, iwi/hapū, Canterbury Museum, National Services Te Paerangi, the Cultural Collections Recovery Centre, other local museums, curators, archaeologists and owners of artefacts)
    • determine criteria and processes to identify a sample of the artefacts to be retained
    • identify appropriate legal and ethical storage, transfer or disposal options for the artefacts
  • promote the project nationally as an example of the appropriate conservation, storage, identification and documentation of artefacts recovered from archaeological investigations, particularly in relation to taonga tūturu (Māori cultural objects).

(Note that MCH administers the Protected Objects Act 1975 (POA), which includes provisions for the care and custody of newly found taonga tūturu. Anyone who finds a taonga tūturu is required to notify MCH or ask their local museum to notify MCH. The Chief Executive of MCH is responsible for the care and custody of newly found taonga tūturu until the Māori Land Court has determined who the customary owners are.)

Indicative timeframe

Artefact Management Information Sheet produced November 2014

Other work is ongoing

Updated on 23rd July 2015