The House tonight passed the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. This Bill reforms the governance of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in line with its status as a Crown entity and streamlines the bureaucracy needed to ensure heritage protection. The statutory name of the Historic Places Trust will change to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.
“This completes the government’s programme of legislative reform of the cultural sector following the passage of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act in January,” Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson said. “Along with the orchestral music sector review and the film review, this government has now reviewed every major part of the cultural and heritage sectors to ensure they are fit for purpose.”
The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill replaces the Historic Places Act 1993 and will streamline the method of obtaining archaeological authorities, bringing the timeframe for consenting in line with the Resource Management Act.
“This bill will simplify and speed up the archaeological consenting procedure, reducing the red-tape burden on people developing their property while ensuring appropriate protection for heritage,” Mr Finlayson said. “It balances the important considerations of heritage protection, public safety and landowners’ rights.”
The Bill also brings the structure of the re-named Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in line with its status as a Crown entity. An eight-member Board will be established by Ministerial appointment, and the existing Māori Heritage Council will be retained in its current size and form. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga will work in consultation with the council on all applications affecting sites of interest to Māori.
This will allow community based advocacy groups to campaign freely without the constraints of being part of a Crown entity, as had been the case under the Historic Places Trust’s local branch structure.
The Bill introduces a number of measures, including an emergency archaeological authority in the wake of natural disasters such as earthquakes, to strike a sensible balance that minimises hold-ups while still protecting vulnerable heritage.
A National Historic Landmarks list will be established to set national priorities for heritage conservation and recognise our most important historic landmarks and precincts.
“The most significant historic places will be recognised by the Bill, acknowledging the importance of heritage to the people of New Zealand,” said Mr Finlayson.
Updated on 23rd July 2015