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Protected objects

Protected Objects Legislation

We administer the Protected Objects Act 1975 (formerly known as the Antiquities Act) which regulates:

  • the export of protected New Zealand objects
  • the illegal export and import of protected New Zealand and foreign objects
  • the sale, trade and ownership of taonga tūturu, including what to do if you find a taonga or Māori artefact.

The Act also incorporates the UNESCO Convention 1970 and the UNIDROIT Convention.  A copy of the Act can be found on the New Zealand legislation website. Details about the Ministry's enforcement and prosecution policy for this act is available on our legislation webpage.

Protected Objects Act 1975

Ornate Māori carving object (Pare)in a box

19th century pare returned to Rotorua Museum and Art Gallery in December 2012.

Protected New Zealand Objects

Under the Act, there are nine categories of protected New Zealand objects:

  • Archaeological, ethnographic, and historical objects of non-New Zealand origin, relating to New Zealand
  • Art objects including fine, decorative, and popular art
  • Documentary heritage objects
  • Nga taonga tūturu
  • Natural science objects
  • New Zealand archaeological objects
  • Numismatic and philatelic objects
  • Science, technology, industry, economy, transport objects
  • Social history objects

A detailed description of the categories is available in Schedule Four of the Protected Objects Act.  Contact us if you are unsure if the object you have is regulated by the Protected Objects Act.

Schedule Four of the Protected Objects Act

Antiquities Act 1975

On 1 November 2006, the Protected Objects Act came into force, superseding the Antiquities Act 1975.  The name of the Act had to change as the term 'antiquities' was replaced with categories of 'protected objects'.  Many of the principles and regulations of the Antiquities Act remain in the Protected Objects Act.

UNESCO and UNIDROIT Conventions

New Zealand's access to the UNESCO and UNIDROIT Conventions came into force in May 2007.  The Conventions will further increase international protection for New Zealand heritage objects.  It allows New Zealand to recover illegally exported objects and other signatory countries to recover protected objects illegally exported into New Zealand.

The UNESCO Convention establishes a framework for international co-operation. This is supplemented by the UNIDROIT Convention   which provides for specific legal actions to recover stolen or illegally exported objects.

UNESCO Convention

UNIDROIT Convention

Related webpages



Frequently Asked Questions

Licensed Dealers

Protected Objects Database log in

Public Notices

Registered Collectors

Taonga Tūturu

Updated on 21st July 2023