The government is the steward of many cultural heritage places on behalf of all New Zealanders. This national collection includes highly significant places and many places of importance to Māori.
The Policy for Government Management of Cultural Heritage Places directs state sector agencies on how to conserve cultural heritage places in their care and manage them efficiently by ensuring that heritage is identified and considered at key points during the property management life cycle. It was published in December 2022 and comes into effect from 1 February 2023.
The Policy replaces the 2004 Policy for Government Department’s Management of its Historic Heritage. The Policy applies to all state sector organisations except for school Boards of Trustees. Other public bodies not subject to the Policy, such as local authorities, could adopt it as best practice.
All state sector agencies will be expected to implement the Policy.
This policy and associated guidelines are available to download as PDFs or read below on this page.
Policy for Government Management of Cultural Heritage Places (PDF 0.12 MB)
Guidance for implementing the Policy (PDF 0.76 MB)
Policy and Guidance for Government Management of Cultural Heritage Places (2022)
- Introductory Material
- Cultural Heritage Management Cycle
- Appendix: State Sector Organisations
- Key Legislation
Foreword from the Chief Executive
Tiakina te whenua, manaakihia te tangata, me whakamua te haere. He mea whakanui tēnei kaupapa here i te hiratanga o te whenua me ngā wāhi ki ō tātou kōrero tuku iho, e tūhono ai tātou ki ngā wā o mua, e ako ai, e whai hua ai tātou i tēnei wā tonu.
Care for the land, care for the people, go forward.
This policy looks to acknowledge the significance land and places have in relation to our heritage, linking us back to the past, so that we as people can learn and thrive from it today.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural heritage is part of our country’s foundation and an important contributor to our personal, community and national identities. Protecting and conserving cultural heritage places ensures that the stories, histories and events that reflect who we are and where we have come from will continue to be experienced by future generations.
Our government is steward of many cultural heritage places on behalf of all New Zealanders from government buildings in metropolitan areas to sacred and historic sites across the motu. This national collection includes highly significant places and many places of importance to Māori.
The Policy will guide government to conserve cultural heritage places and manage them efficiently by ensuring that heritage is identified and considered at key points during the property management life cycle. For places of significance to Māori, the Policy establishes processes to ensure they are appropriately managed and conserved in a way that respects mātauranga Māori.
Government must take a leadership role in being good stewards of the heritage places in its care. This Policy will enable our government agencies to identify, protect and conserve Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural heritage places and ensure they continue to contribute to our collective wellbeing now and in the future.
Hon Carmel Sepuloni Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Kiri Allan Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage November 2022
The Policy for Government Management of Cultural Heritage Places (the Policy) applies to state sector organisations  and the places with cultural heritage values that they care for.
The Policy is designed to guide the conservation of cultural heritage places in the context of delivery of government services. It sets out best practice heritage management standards that can be incorporated into an agency’s property management processes.
The strategic, systematic approach to the management of cultural heritage places outlined in this Policy will enable government both to conserve places according to their cultural heritage values and to manage assets efficiently.
New Zealand’s cultural heritage is rich, varied and unique. It is a legacy of all generations, from the earliest places of Māori use and occupation to inner-city buildings. Heritage places connect us to our personal, community and national identity, support sustainable development and contribute to society’s resilience and wellbeing. For Māori, place gives meaning to the history, traditions, culture and identity of whānau, hapū, and iwi.
The government manages a significant portfolio of heritage places on behalf of the people of New Zealand. The heritage assets managed by government agencies often have important operational functions but are also valuable physical reminders of government’s role in the history of New Zealand. The government’s portfolio of heritage places is an important national collection which includes some highly significant places and many places of significance to Māori. Many of these places are also valued by the communities they are connected to and make a contribution to community identity.
The government is committed to the identification, protection, and conservation of New Zealand’s heritage places and has established legislation and agencies for this purpose. Awareness of heritage places amongst those who exercise authority over them is vital to the prevention of damage and destruction of heritage places.
Government is responsible for the stewardship of its own cultural heritage assets so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to wellbeing now and into the future.
Government agencies are stewards of the heritage places in their care and follow best practice to ensure their long-term contribution to New Zealanders’ economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing.
By taking a leadership role in cultural heritage management, it is anticipated that government agencies will:
- respect and acknowledge the importance of cultural heritage
- foster a wider appreciation of and pride in the nation’s heritage and identity
- consistently use best practice when managing heritage places
- ensure that cultural heritage is conserved and, where appropriate, used for the benefit of all New Zealanders
- ensure that places of significance to Māori are appropriately managed and conserved, in a manner that respects mātauranga Māori and is consistent with the tikanga and kawa of the tangata whenua
- model best practice to other owners of cultural heritage places
- ensure meaningful engagement and participation of iwi/hapū/kaitiaki in cultural heritage management
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage will periodically evaluate the effectiveness of this policy at achieving the outcomes outlined above.
The Policy applies to all State sector organisations with cultural heritage places in their care, except for school boards of trustees. Other public bodies that are not subject to the Policy, such as local authorities, could adopt it as good practice.
A heritage place is considered to be ‘in the care of’ an organisation that owns, manages or leases it. The policy applies to the extent that the organisation has the authority (as owner, manager or lessee) to implement it.
State sector organisations that manage private assets are encouraged to apply the policy to those assets where practicable.
Archaeological site has the same meaning as defined in the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.
Best practice means a method that has been judged to be superior to other methods, or a procedure or activity that has produced outstanding results in one situation and could be adapted to improve effectiveness, efficiency and/or innovation in another situation.
Community means a group of people who share either a common identity, the same interests, pursuits, or occupation and/or who live in the same geographical area.
Conservation means all the processes of understanding and caring for a place so as to safeguard its cultural heritage value.
Cost means the full spectrum of potential costs - economic, social, environmental and cultural.
- means those natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s history and cultures, deriving from any of the following qualities: archaeological, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific, technological, and
- includes historic sites, structures, places, and areas; and archaeological sites; and sites of significance to Māori, including wāhi tapu; and surroundings associated with the natural and physical resources.
Cultural heritage value means possessing aesthetic, archaeological, architectural, commemorative, functional, historical, landscape, monumental, scientific, social, spiritual, symbolic, technological, traditional, or other tangible or intangible values, associated with human activity.
Designation has the same meaning as defined in the Resource Management Act 1991.
Government agency means an organisation that is part of the State sector as defined in chapter 3 of the Cabinet Manual 2017 but does not include any school board of trustees. 
Heritage place is a place with cultural heritage value.
Property means real property, i.e. land and any building or structure or anything fixed to land.
Setting means the area around and/or adjacent to a heritage place that is integral to its function, meaning, and relationships; and to the understanding and appreciation of the place’s cultural heritage value.
Site of significance means all places of Māori/Moriori origin, as well as later places of significance, as determined by iwi/imi and hapū.
Stewardship means active planning and management of medium- and long-term interests.
Thematic study means a study that focuses on the heritage of a theme or period of New Zealand’s history e.g. justice or 1960s.
Typological study means a study that focuses on a particular type of heritage place e.g. courthouses.
The following key principles on which this policy is based reflect:
- New Zealand legislation and government policy
- New Zealand and international heritage charters and guidelines including the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Heritage Value 2010.
- Rights relating to cultural heritage contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Cultural heritage has value and meaning
- Cultural heritage is a finite and non-renewable resource with lasting value in its own right and provides evidence of the origins and development of New Zealand’s distinct peoples and society.
1. Cultural heritage contributes to wellbeing and resilience
The retention and conservation of cultural heritage supports New Zealanders’ economic, environmental, social and cultural wellbeing and resilience.
2. Cultural heritage conservation contributes to environmental sustainability
The retention, conservation and, where appropriate, adaptive reuse of cultural heritage benefits the community by promoting the sustainable use of resources, retention of embodied energy and minimisation of waste.
3. The protection of cultural heritage is a matter of national importance
Under the Resource Management Act 1991, the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use and development is a matter of national importance, as is the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu and other taonga.
4. Government agencies work to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi provides the foundation for engagement with Māori communities in respect of their heritage places.
Government agencies make informed decisions and work in partnership with Māori/Moriori and recognise and provide for the relationship of Māori/Moriori communities with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu, wāhi tūpuna.
5. Government agencies recognise that Māori/Moriori are the holders of their traditional knowledge
When partnering with Māori, government agencies recognise and respect that Māori/Moriori are the holders of their traditional knowledge of Māori/Moriori cultural heritage places.
6. Government agencies lead by example
By adopting appropriate heritage management strategies, processes and practices, the New Zealand government shows leadership by setting the standard for the management of cultural heritage assets and values to the rest of the community.
7. Government agencies are responsible for the long-term stewardship of public assets
Government agencies have responsibility for the long-term stewardship and efficient and effective management of their property and assets, including cultural heritage, acknowledging that asset management is about providing desired services by managing assets in the most cost-effective way, for today’s and future generations.
8. Government agencies are open and transparent
The government is accountable to the public who have a valid interest in the conservation of heritage places.
Cultural Heritage Management Cycle
The following diagram is a visual depiction of where the key policies for government management of cultural heritage occur in the cycle of management.
The text under each heading in the Cycle of Management represented in the above image.
- Understand the extent, history, use and fabric of cultural heritage
- Plan and budget for engagement, expertise and communications
- Prepare an inventory
- Assess significance
- Plan strategically for all cultural heritage
- Prepare conservation plans for places
- Plan for maintenance
- Formally protect values
- Promote cultural heritage
- Use appropriately
- Monitor condition
- Upgrade where necessary
- Follow Crown property disposal process
- Consider options for reuse
- Consider all costs and benefits
- Maintain heritage values
- Use formal protection mechanisms
- Consider heritage values
- Consider iwi/imi interests in the place
At all stages in the cycle:
- Meet conservation standards, such as the ICOMOS Charter 2010
- Meet legislative requirements
- Seek specialist advice from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, iwi/imi, hapū, marae or rūnanga, local authorities and heritage professionals
- Use appropriately qualified workers
- Partner and consult with Māori/Moriori and other communities
- Document management
- Report on compliance with the Policy
The following policies set the standards expected to be achieved by government agencies managing cultural heritage. Government agencies will:
1. Integrate heritage management into property management
Government agencies will integrate management of cultural heritage values into their asset management planning, policies and practices.
The management of heritage assets is a New Zealand Government responsibility and is to be undertaken alongside the management of other assets and operational responsibilities. The objective of managing a heritage asset is to identify, protect and conserve its cultural heritage significance for current and future generations. The effective management of heritage assets will require an appropriate balance between the objectives of efficient provision of government services and conserving New Zealand’s heritage.
General guidance on government asset management is provided by the Government Property Group.
2. Meet legislative requirements and heritage conservation standards
For all planning and work on heritage places, government agencies will comply with:
- relevant statutory and regulatory requirements, such as requirements for resource consents under Part 6 of the Resource Management Act 1991, archaeological authorities under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 and Treaty Settlement deeds and legislation.
- accepted conservation standards, such as the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter 2010.
New Zealand’s cultural heritage system is established by statute. It largely separates the functions for identifying and protecting cultural heritage. These functions are established under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 (the HNZPT Act) and the Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA), respectively.
Other pieces of legislation, as well as non-statutory policies, also affect how cultural heritage places are managed in New Zealand.
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014
The HNZPT Act establishes Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT) and provides for the New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero (the List).
New Zealand Heritage List / Rārangi Kōrero
A primary responsibility of HNZPT is the administration of the List. Places on the List have statutory recognition of their heritage values, but the List does not provide protection.
Anyone in New Zealand, including HNZPT, can nominate a place for the List. The listing process is comprehensive and may involve public notification. It takes, on average, one year from the initiation of the process for a listing to be finalised.
Crown Land Disposal process
HNZPT also has a Cabinet-approved role in the Crown Land Disposal process. HNZPT assesses the significance of any cultural heritage values on Crown land prior to disposal and may recommend measures to protect significant cultural heritage in the national interest.
Through its legislation, HNZPT has the ability to place an heritage covenant on a property. Heritage covenants are voluntary agreements for the purpose of protecting and conserving an historic place, historic area, wāhi tūpuna, wāhi tapu or wāhi tapu area. An heritage covenant is usually permanently registered against the land title and places conditions on the management and use of the place.
HNZPT manages the archaeological authority process, which regulates damage to, modification and destruction of archaeological sites. An archaeological site is defined in the HNZPT Act as any place in New Zealand (including buildings, structures and shipwrecks) associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there is evidence relating to the history of New Zealand that can be investigated using archaeological methods.
An archaeological authority is required for the modification or destruction of an archaeological site. Information about the archaeological requirements of the HNZPT Act can be found on their website.
Archaeological requirements of HNZPT Act.
Resource Management Act 1991
In the RMA, historic heritage is defined as:
those natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s history and cultures, deriving from any of the following qualities: archaeological, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific and technological, and includes historic sites, structures, places, areas, archaeological sites, sites of significance to Māori including wāhi tapu, and surroundings associated with the natural and physical resources.
The protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development is identified as one of a number of matters of national importance in the RMA that shall be recognised and provided for.
Local authorities (LAs i.e. local, regional and unitary councils) are most often the RMA decision-makers on matters concerning historic heritage. In their district, regional or unitary plans they develop schedules of historic heritage with rules setting out how the places identified in the schedule are to be managed. This is the most common way in which heritage places receive regulatory protection.
The RMA also enables the use of heritage orders by Heritage Protection Authorities (Ministers of the Crown, LAs, body corporates and HNZPT). Heritage Protection Authorities may require a heritage order to protect the heritage qualities of a place or structure.
General guidance on RMA processes is available via the Environment Guide, which has practical information to assist stakeholders to effectively participate in environmental management. Quality Planning, while aimed at RMA practitioners, also contains relevant information.
Building Act 2004
The Building Act 2004 is the primary legislation governing the building industry. The Building Act outlines principles that must be taken into account when decisions are made under the Act, including:
- the importance of recognising any special traditional and cultural aspects of the intended use of a building
- the need to facilitate the preservation of buildings of significant cultural, historical or heritage value.
As with the RMA, most decisions under the Building Act are made by LAs.
ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Heritage Value
ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) is an international non-governmental organisation of heritage professionals engaged in the conservation of places of cultural heritage value that is dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and sites.
The New Zealand committee (ICOMOS New Zealand / Te Mana o Ngā Pouwhenua o Te Ao) administers the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Heritage Value (the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter), a set of principles which guides conservation practice. The ICOMOS New Zealand Charter is widely used and is a recognised benchmark for conservation standards and practice. It is used by HNZPT and many LAs, and underpins the Policy.
Agencies implementing the Policy should become familiar with the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter and its best-practice principles. It is available from ICOMOS New Zealand.
3. Seek specialist advice and use appropriately qualified workers
Government agencies will seek advice from iwi/imi, hapū, marae or rūnanga on any matter related to the management of places of significance to Māori/Moriori.
Government agencies will seek advice from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga on:
- the conservation of heritage values in the Crown property disposal process
- the conservation of National Historic Landmarks/Ngā Manawhenua o Aotearoa me ōna Kōrero Tūturu and items entered in the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero
- archaeological sites
- heritage orders where Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is the protection authority.
Government agencies may seek advice from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga on any other matter related to the management of cultural heritage.
Government agencies will involve, where necessary, appropriately qualified people, including kaitiaki Māori, conservation professionals, conservators and tradespeople in all aspects of the management of cultural heritage.
Government agencies will appropriately remunerate all specialists and other workers including resourcing of iwi/imi/hapū/kaitiaki in undertaking research, input, and participation.
Government agencies will ensure that relevant employees are aware of the principles of heritage conservation and the heritage values of properties in their agency’s care.
Agencies should ensure that employees, contractors, consultants and companies employed to manage and undertake work on heritage assets are trained in and familiar with the requirements of the Policy.
Iwi/imi, hapū and rūnanga
Your agency may have existing relationships with mana whenua. Engaging with mana whenua to identify appropriate specialists is likely to be the best approach. Te Kāhui Māngai (Directory of Iwi and Māori Organisations) is a useful tool to find basic information about iwi, hapū and marae. It lists iwi authorities and groups that represent hapū for the purposes of the RMA.
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Advice can be sought from HNZPT’s regional offices. HNZPT also has a range of guidelines, publications and other information available on its website to assist government asset managers in their work. Of particular relevance is the Sustainable Management of Historic Heritage Guidance series. This aims to assist owners and others in the protection and conservation of historic heritage under the RMA and related resource management and planning legislation.
According to the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter:
all aspects of conservation work should be planned, directed, supervised, and undertaken by people with appropriate conservation training and experience directly relevant to the project. All conservation disciplines, arts, crafts, trades, and traditional skills and practices that are relevant to the project should be applied and promoted.
Relevant specialists include historians, landscape and conservation architects, planners, engineers, archaeologists, tradespeople, materials conservators and interpretation specialists.
HNZPT regional offices can be contacted for advice on specialists available in your area.
Specialist services can also be found using the following directories:
4. Partner and consult
Government agencies will partner with iwi and hapū in the identification, assessment and management of sites of significance to Māori/Moriori.
Government agencies recognise the importance of early engagement with iwi/imi/hapū and kaitiaki to build and maintain partnerships between iwi and government agencies.
Government agencies will consult with relevant communities when making decisions that may have a significant impact on heritage places.
Government agencies will invite public participation, where appropriate, in the management of cultural heritage through various initiatives, such as:
- seeking public comment on conservation plans or disposal of cultural heritage
- establishing partnerships with communities of interest
- voluntary notification of resource consent applications.
Where appropriate, government agencies will collaborate in their management of cultural heritage.
As noted above:
- your agency may have existing relationships with mana whenua
- Te Kāhui Māngai is a useful tool to find information about iwi, hapū and marae.
Te Arawhiti has a range of tools and resources to support Crown engagement with Māori, and advice on engagement can be sought from its Māori Crown Relations Unit. For example:
- the Māori Crown relations capability framework outlines aspects of being a good partner
- the Guidelines to Engagement with Māori are most relevant to engagement on a specific policy or initiative, but the principles are applicable to engagement more broadly.
Government agencies will consult with relevant communities when making decisions that may have a significant impact on heritage places
Government agencies will invite public participation, where appropriate, in the management of cultural heritage through various initiatives, such as:
- seeking public comment on conservation plans or disposal of cultural heritage
- establishing partnerships with communities of interest
- voluntary notification of resource consent applications.
The ICOMOS New Zealand Charter outlines why and when communities should be involved in the management of cultural heritage places. The ICOMOS New Zealand Charter uses the term ‘connected people’ rather than ‘communities’, defining it as ‘any groups, organisations, or individuals having a sense of association with or responsibility for a place of cultural heritage value’.
The ICOMOS New Zealand Charter says that:
- cultural heritage value should be understood through consultation with connected people
- conservation plans should consider the needs, abilities, and resources of connected people
conservation projects should include:
- consultation with interested parties and connected people, continuing throughout the project
- opportunities for interested parties and connected people to contribute to and participate in the project.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Policy Project has useful guidance on community engagement.
Where appropriate, government agencies will collaborate in their management of cultural heritage
Agencies may derive benefits in terms of value for money and efficiency by collaborating with other agencies. Opportunities to collaborate include heritage studies and conservation planning, particularly in overlapping geographic or thematic areas.
5. Record management of cultural heritage
Government agencies will appropriately record their cultural heritage including by undertaking research, assessments, plans and documentation of changes.
Cultural heritage will be recorded using appropriate and accurate language, dialect, and terminology to describe places including Māori cultural heritage places and their values.
Government agencies seek agreement with iwi/hapū regarding mātauranga Māori, and the gathering, use, storage, and dissemination of this knowledge.
Government agencies will allow public access to records in accordance with legal requirements.
Guidance on recording places through research, assessment and plans is provided below at policies 7, 8 and 10.
Documentation includes information about changes to the place and any decisions made during the conservation process. This information should be fully documented to ensure that it is available to present and future generations.
Public access to records may be provided through a variety of methods. These methods may range from publication on a website to providing material in response to a request made under the Official Information Act 1992.
6. Report on compliance with the policy
Government agencies will report biennially in the format prescribed by Manatū Taonga on the extent of their compliance with this policy and provide reasons for non-compliance. Outcomes of reporting will be made publicly available on the ministry’s website.
Manatū Taonga will provide guidance to agencies on how to report on compliance with the Policy by 2024.
7. Understand heritage places
Government agencies will research and identify the heritage places on the property they manage periodically, including sites of significance to Māori/Moriori. Research may need to include engagement with local iwi/imi who may hold information not available on public databases and inventories. Where appropriate, government agencies will take a thematic or typological study approach to identifying cultural heritage values, which can assist with setting priorities for conservation and management.
Before an agency can manage and conserve its heritage assets, it must identify the range and extent of cultural heritage places within its ownership and control. There are likely to be unidentified places of cultural heritage value in government property portfolios.
To understand the heritage assets in its portfolio, an agency may commission its own study or survey and include any places it identifies as being sufficiently significant in its inventory.
Thematic or typological studies which organise places into overarching themes (e.g., rail travel or education), time periods or types of place (e.g., train stations or schools), may be helpful for understanding an agency’s heritage assets.
8. Prepare and maintain an inventory of heritage places
Inventories of the heritage places identified by government agencies will be published centrally. At a minimum, inventories must include:
- World Heritage sites
- National Historic Landmarks/Ngā Manawhenua o Aotearoa me ōna Kōrero Tūturu
- places on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero
- recorded archaeological sites
- heritage places scheduled in reserve management plans
- places included in heritage schedules in regional or district plans
- places that have been identified as likely to meet the threshold for listing or scheduling in an area, thematic, typological or other heritage study prepared by suitably qualified heritage practitioners
- places subject to heritage orders
- places subject to heritage covenants.
Inventories may also include heritage places identified in:
- Iwi/Imi management plans, noting that there may be several and overlapping plans in some areas.
- areas acknowledged in Treaty settlements as being of significance to Māori/Moriori.
Inventories will use appropriate and accurate language, dialect, and terminology for Māori/Moriori cultural heritage places and their values.
Inventories are registers of places identified as having cultural heritage significance. They should be seen as living documents and updated at regular intervals.
An inventory is more than a list. Each entry should contain, at a minimum:
- an outline of the history of the place
- a description of its physical characteristics and setting
- an assessment of significance, using criteria and thresholds suitable for the purpose
- a legal description, location and spatial information
- details of any listings, e.g., Heritage New Zealand List / Rārangi Kōrero, District Plan schedules.
Heritage significance assessments
An assessment of cultural heritage significance should be prepared for each place on an agency’s heritage inventory. The significance assessment process should be thorough and based on sound research and analysis using documentary and physical evidence. It should not be based on conjecture. This process should result in each place on the inventory having a statement of significance. This is a concise description of its heritage values, describing:
- what is significant
- how it is significant
- why it is significant.
A significance assessment enables the agency and stakeholders to fully understand the heritage asset and why it is of value to present and future generations. It allows managers to consider opportunities for using heritage significance in a positive way, as well as making them aware of appropriate constraints on development. The conservation of the asset and any new works can then be tailored to have the least possible impact on its heritage significance.
Criteria and methods for assessing cultural heritage places
There is no prescribed method for government agencies to assess cultural heritage places. HNZPT and LAs have published methods and guidance for identifying heritage places for the purposes of the HNZPT Act and the RMA. These documents may be of use to government agencies when complying with policy 7. Links to examples are provided below.
Significance Assessment Guidelines outline how HNZPT assess a historic place or historic area for entry on the List.
Best practice criteria are promoted by HNZPT for use by LAs and communities to encourage a systematic and transparent approach to the identification and assessment of historic places, sites and areas.
Greater Wellington Regional Council’s A Guide to Historic Heritage Identification (2010) aims to help people understand the different types of historic heritage values associated with places, sites and areas. The guide contains criteria for assessing historic heritage values and the significance of places in a regionally consistent way and in language that everyone can understand and use. The criteria are designed to be used by LAs, community groups and others to evaluate the significance of historic heritage places, sites and areas.
In 2020, Auckland Council published a Methodology and guidance for evaluating Auckland’s historic heritage.
Sources for inventory entries
Government agencies should check the following sources to ensure the content of their inventory meets the minimum requirements of the Policy.
- UNESCO (which maintains the record of properties in New Zealand that are inscribed on the World Heritage List).
- HNZPT (which maintains National Historic Landmarks / Ngā Manawhenua o Aotearoa me ōna Kōrero Tūturu and the List. HNZPT can also provide information about places subject to heritage covenants).
- ArchSite, the archaeological site recording scheme.
- Relevant reserve management plans (held by the Reserve Administering Body).
- Heritage schedules of relevant regional and district plans (available via the website of the local authority). These should include details of any heritage orders in the jurisdiction.
- Relevant iwi/Imi management plans (see Quality Planning and HNZPT guidance).
- Relevant Treaty settlement documents available from the New Zealand Government website.
Agencies are encouraged to review and update inventories annually to reflect changing circumstances and available information. It is recommended that annual reviews record:
- the addition of new heritage assets
- the addition of new information about existing heritage assets, such as the completion of a conservation plan or a transfer of ownership
- cessation of occupancy
- the demolition of an asset.
9. Support proposals to protect cultural heritage
Government agencies will support initiatives to publicly recognise the values of cultural heritage they manage. For example:
- inclusion on a regional or district plan heritage schedule
- listing under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 as a National Historic Landmark, wāhi tapu, wāhi tūpuna, historic place or historic area
- inscription as a World Heritage site.
Heritage assets identified by an agency may be nominated for inclusion on the List. HNZPT’s Significance Assessment Guidelines will assist with the documenting and assessing required before nominating a historic place or area. An agency may also nominate a place for consideration as a wāhi tūpuna, wāhi tapu or wāhi tapu area.
Assets of local significance may be referred to the relevant LA for inclusion in their schedule of heritage items.
Government agencies can also support public recognition of their heritage places by:
- making a submission on a listing proposal under the HNZPT Act
- making a submission to the relevant LA on a proposed plan change or review.
10. Plan for the long-term conservation of cultural heritage
Government agencies will provide for the long-term conservation (including disaster mitigation) of the cultural heritage in their care by preparing, updating and implementing plans and strategies, such as:
- an agency-wide heritage asset management strategy
- conservation plans
- cyclical maintenance plans
- management plans for historic reserves
- risk management plans, including planning for threats arising from climate change.
- Plans and strategies may be for individual places, for sites, or prepared typologically. Where practical and appropriate, government agencies will make their plans for cultural heritage publicly available.
A conservation plan is a guiding document for the conservation, care and management of a cultural heritage place. Typically, a conservation plan describes a place and its history, and identifies its significance and heritage values. It establishes conservation policies to safeguard those values and makes recommendations for putting the policies into action.
Agencies should have a conservation plan for every significant heritage asset, especially when major work is planned.
There is currently no New Zealand-specific guidance on preparing conservation plans.
James Semple Kerr’s The Seventh Edition Conservation Plan (2013) is available for free download from Australia ICOMOS. First published in 1982, it is used widely by heritage owners and practitioners around the world.
HNZPT prepares plans for its heritage places and some examples can be found on their website.
Management plans for historic reserves
The Department of Conservation publishes guidance for Reserve Administering Bodies.
Risk management plans
Risk management plans (often known as ‘disaster risk management plans’) are aimed at preventing or mitigating the effects of a disaster such as an earthquake or an extreme storm. They should include planning for threats arising from climate change.
Risk management plans are either stand-alone documents or incorporated into conservation plans. Sound disaster risk management planning is closely aligned with sound conservation planning and can be summarised as the ‘4 Rs’:
- reduce risk—eliminate or minimise risks
- be ready—prepare for a possible disaster
- have an effective response—actions required during an emergency
- ensure that the place can recover—actions needed to recover cultural heritage value.
HNZPT has published two guidance documents on risk planning:
11. Promote the values of cultural heritage
Government agencies will promote and celebrate heritage places in their care. For example, by facilitating public access, or making online or in-situ interpretation available.
Where possible, government agencies ensure that iwi/imi/hapū/kaitiaki have and maintain physical access to cultural heritage places of importance to them.
There are a myriad of ways in which agencies can promote the stories of their cultural heritage places and the heritage outcomes achieved at them. The Department of Conservation’s 2005 Interpretation Handbook and Standard [PDF] contains useful guidance for the interpretation of cultural heritage places.
12 Consider ways to use, adapt or protect cultural heritage places
Government agencies will not dispose of or demolish cultural heritage places without fully exploring viable options for their reuse or alternative compatible uses. If this use cannot be continued, places are adaptively re-used for a purpose sympathetic to their cultural heritage value.
Recognising that adaptive re-use is not appropriate for all cultural heritage places, if the original use cannot be continued, government agencies will secure the place from physical damage and safeguard its cultural heritage values.
Decisions on re-use will uphold the relationship of iwi/imi/hapū with their cultural heritage places in meaningful and practical ways, for example tikanga whakahaere, access, commemoration.
Cultural heritage places are not disposed of or demolished without fully exploring viable options for their reuse or alternative compatible uses. It is acknowledged that an agency’s operational requirements may prevent adaptive re-use or may necessitate changes that are unsympathetic to their cultural heritage value, including disposal or demolition of a place.
The most effective way to ensure the long-term survival of a heritage asset is for it to be used and/or occupied. The continued use of an asset for its original purpose may also be important to maintain its heritage significance. Wherever possible, an agency should endeavour to maintain that use.
Where it is not desirable or practical to continue an original use, an agency should seek an adaptive reuse compatible with the asset’s heritage significance. This will assist in its conservation and interpretation.
There are strong environmental and economic arguments for the continuing use or adaptive reuse of heritage places. Both avoid the resource use, waste and environmental impact involved in demolition and rebuilding. Reuse is also often cheaper than rebuilding. Retrofitting rather than demolishing just one small building can save 600 tonnes of waste from landfill and is equivalent to taking 120 cars off the road. 
HNZPT published Heritage Redesigned: Adapting Historic Places for Contemporary New Zealand in 2011. This includes a discussion of the values and benefits associated with reusing heritage places (whether repurposed or not), and several short, easy-to-read, practical examples of adaptive reuse in the New Zealand context.
HNZPT also has guidance on the Demolition of historic buildings.
 Nugent, C. ‘Climate Conscious Architects Want Europe to Build Less’, Time, 16 August 2022.
13. Take into account all relevant values, cultural knowledge, and disciplines when planning change or development
If alterations are needed for a new or continuing use of a heritage place, or to secure its long life, government agencies will take all reasonable steps to ensure that cultural heritage values are not adversely affected.
Government agencies will take care to protect the setting of cultural heritage places from inappropriate development.
When planning and carrying out work adjacent to heritage places, government agencies will seek to ensure that heritage values are not adversely affected.
Where avoidance is not possible, government agencies will mitigate to the greatest extent possible adverse effects on cultural heritage.
When seeking a designation for a site, government agencies will take account of heritage values.
It is recommended that when significant changes to a heritage asset is planned, discussions are held with all relevant agencies and stakeholders as soon as possible to identify any heritage issues.
The ICOMOS New Zealand Charter [PDF] outlines principles for degrees of intervention at a heritage place. Alterations and additions, for example, ‘may be acceptable where they are necessary for a compatible use of the place. Any change should be the minimum necessary, should be substantially reversible, and should have little or no adverse effect on the cultural heritage value of the place’.
A number of information sheets, guidelines and discussion papers in the HNZPT Sustainable Management of Historic Heritage Guidance series contain relevant guidance to assist government agencies to comply with this policy. These cover:
- principles for assessing appropriate or inappropriate subdivision, use and development on historic heritage values
- preparing a heritage impact assessment
- alterations and additions to historic buildings
- relocation of historic buildings
- partial demolition of historic buildings
- assessing impacts on surroundings associated with historic heritage
- assessing impacts on historic areas
- assessing impacts on places and areas of significance to Māori
- assessing impacts on historic sites, including archaeological sites
- assessing impacts of subdivision on historic heritage
- assessing impacts of advertising signs on historic heritage
- assessing impacts of designations on historic heritage.
14. Monitor the condition of heritage places
Government agencies will care for their heritage places by periodically (for example, as determined by conservation management plans) monitoring their condition.
Agencies should incorporate a system to monitor and report on the physical condition of heritage assets listed in their heritage inventory. Prompt action on changes in condition should be taken to ensure heritage significance is not eroded.
HNZPT has published a sample form for Monitoring the state of historic heritage which includes guidelines.
15. Maintain heritage places and appropriately repair them
Government agencies will regularly maintain and appropriately repair their heritage places.
This conserves heritage value and prevents deterioration and expensive deferred maintenance or major repairs. Maintenance is also key to resilience in the face of seismic risk and climate change.
Regular, planned maintenance is the most cost-effective approach to asset management in the long run. It will reduce the need for major repairs.
Work on heritage assets should be planned and undertaken so that heritage significance is conserved. Repairs should follow the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter [PDF] principle of minimum intervention: ‘do as much as necessary, but as little as possible’. Best practice conservation techniques should be used in repairing heritage assets. Ensure that all statutory approvals are obtained prior to undertaking conservation work.
Maintenance should follow a maintenance plan provided in a conservation plan or as a stand-alone document. Maintenance plans can come in a variety of forms but should generally set out:
- what regular and ongoing protective care will take place
- how this work will prevent the deterioration of the place and retain its cultural heritage value
- how and how often the place will be monitored.
HNZPT has an information sheet on Repairs and maintenance to historic places and areas.
The Department of Conservation has developed two New Zealand-specific maintenance guides:
16. Ensure heritage values are protected when disposing of property
When considering properties for disposal, government agencies will:
- identify any previously unrecognised cultural heritage including the presence of wāhi tapu or sites of significance to iwi/imi, at the earliest opportunity and before undertaking any earthworks or demolition of buildings or structures
- consider ways of disposal that will support iwi/imi/hapū/kaitiaki to maintain physical access to cultural heritage places of importance to them
- maintain heritage values while decisions about future use and disposal are made, recognising that inadequate maintenance will make ultimate disposal more difficult.
When disposing of property government agencies will:
- follow the Crown land disposal process, where applicable, and consult Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga at an early stage and throughout the process
- recognise and protect the heritage values of transferred property as recommended by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (through a heritage covenant for example), or provide reasons to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga if any recommendation is not adopted
- give clear information about values and any protections to potential purchasers
- take into account public good and the full spectrum of costs and benefits (social, economic, environmental and cultural) ensuring that financial return is not the sole consideration
- consider large sites in their entirety to avoid isolating cultural heritage and adversely affecting setting or long-term sustainability.
The Crown property disposal process is administered by Land Information New Zealand. More information is available on its website.
17. Take heritage values into account when acquiring or leasing property
When acquiring or leasing property government agencies will:
- consider opportunities to conserve or adaptively reuse cultural heritage
- consider iwi/imi interests in the place
- use cultural heritage places in a way that is compatible with heritage values
- recognise the contribution that government can make to the conservation of heritage values in historic regional town centres by locating appropriate services there.
The ICOMOS New Zealand Charter [PDF] and HNZPT’s Sustainable Management of Historic Heritage Guidance series will assist agencies to comply with this policy.
HNZPT’s Saving the Town Heritage Toolkit highlights successful experiences and case studies from around Aotearoa New Zealand that illustrate proactive contemporary approaches to heritage. This is a valuable resource on how to encourage and facilitate heritage retention, preservation and reuse in districts, towns and cities of all sizes.
Appendix: State sector organisations
- Departmental agencies
- Interdepartmental executive boards
Non-public service departments
- Executive branch
- Legislative branch
- Crown agents
- Autonomous Crown entities
- Independent Crown entities
Crown entity companies
- Crown Research Institutes
- Other companies
- Crown Entity Subsidiaries of Te Pūkenga (New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology)
- Other Crown entity subsidiaries
- Tertiary institutions
- Independent statutory entities
Public Finance Act Schedule 4
Organisations Public Finance Act
Schedule 4A Companies Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Offices of Parliament State-owned enterprises
Mixed Ownership Model companies
Key Legislation, Policy And Guidance
Building Act 2004
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014
Heritage New Zealand Sustainable Management of Historic Heritage Guidance series, 2007 ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Heritage Value, 2010 James Semple Kerr, The Conservation Plan, 2013
Quality Planning website
Resource Management Act 1991 (and any relevant planning documents, such as National Directions, Regional Policy Statements and District Plans issued under the Act)
Reserves Act 1977
1. As defined in chapter 3 of the Cabinet Manual 2017.
2. For example, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation.
3. Based on the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter 2010 definition of conservation.
4. Based on the Resource Management Act 1991 definition of historic heritage.
5. Based on the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter 2010 definition of cultural heritage value.
6. See Appendix for list of organisation types.
7. Based on the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter 2010 definition of setting.
8. Iwi Management Plans may set out iwi expectations for partnering with iwi. Other advice on Māori cultural heritage may be available from iwi planning documents for example Environmental Management Plans. Te Arawhiti’s guidance on Crown Engagement with Māori should be consulted.
9. Starting points for identifying iwi and hapū include Te Kāhui Māngai (Te Puni Kōkiri’s Directory of iwi and Māori Organisations) and local authorities.
10. Online or by lodgement in an appropriate local or national archive, library or other public repository.
Updated on 14th February 2023