H@R! : Heritage at Risk


New Zealand has various forms of heritage that are endangered, as discussed below:

Archaeological heritage and associated cultural landscapes

These are affected by urbanisation and sub-division in the northern North Island, eg Papamoa, Manukau, Pouerua.

Significance - reflects the cultural and economic history of Maori and early European settlement.

Threat - archaeological sites individually and cultural landscapes collectively are overrun by urban and semi-urban development with protected remnants inadequately representative of heritage.

Possible Solutions - pro-active cultural heritage management planning at the district council and national level to establish protection zones in which rules apply that effectively protect archaeological heritage and associated cultural landscapes.

Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve, Gisborne

Significance – First landing site in New Zealand of British navigator, Captain Cook; site of the landing of the Horouta waka (tribal canoe); site where the two cultures first met; and site of major botanical collections.

Threat - Reclamation over the years means that the site is no longer beside the sea. In 1990 a Cone of Vision was negotiated which gave clear views to the sea, but this is not being upheld. Port development is encroaching on the Cone. A lack of understanding of, and recognition of, cultural landscapes.

Possible Solutions - Several parties are in negotiation at the moment to look at solutions to the Cone of Vision issue. One proposal being investigated currently is an impressive on-site interpretation centre which presents all the histories of the area, eg iwi, Cook, early development of Gisborne Port Company and looks at linking the site with the sea in other ways to the Cone of Vision.

Earliest colonial heritage and associated cultural landscapes

New Zealand's earliest colonial heritage and associated cultural landscapes are affected by encroaching incompatible development, eg Kerikeri, Russell, Paihia, Waimate North.

Significance - reflects the cultural and social history of the meeting of Maori and European populations.

Threat – the loss of cultural landscape values as a result of the incompatible encroachment of sub-division and development, and the detrimental impacts of road and bridge construction and other infrastructure on the historic fabric.

Possible Solutions - pro-active cultural heritage management planning at the district council and national level to establish heritage protection zones which control encroachment, and intervention by central and local government in collaboration to address the detrimental impacts of infrastructure.

Auckland volcanic landscape

This landscape is at risk, especially the surviving dozen major volcanic cone terraced towns, and the two surviving samples of historic stone-fields. Other major items include Rangitoto volcano, and special smaller items, such as caves.

Significance - a major centre of Maori settlement, from the time of the arrival of the various tribal canoes in the 14th and 15th centuries at least. It is also a major centre of European settlement, the focus of urban development from 1840, and now supports a third of the country's population in a mega-metropolis.

Threat - the continued redevelopment of urban areas and development of the surrounding countryside, devastating both the Maori landscape and the early historic archaeological landscape, as well as the built heritage, industrial, public, and domestic.

Possible Solutions:

  • Promoting historic and cultural heritage management policies and concepts, to add to the present focus on the "natural" heritage.
  • Establish a Trust with a purchasing capacity to acquire landscapes and sites of historic and cultural heritage.
  • Promote professional training for field management staff in public organisations that are responsible for managing heritage landscapes and sites: such as the Regional Council, District and City Councils, the Department of Conservation.
  • Public financing and staffing of a professional heritage recording scheme, based on the New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Record File system.


Modern (post-1940s) buildings

Significance - represents growing social and economic stability, the development of New Zealand architects and visions, engaging in new building theory and technological innovations. They also represent a new context of heritage, which is not linked to concepts of age or visual "beauty".

Threat - demolition and inappropriate refurbishment or refitting.

Possible Solutions - Increased education as to New Zealand’s historic heritage, especially embracing heritage that is not necessarily old or "pretty". Pro-active cultural heritage management planning at the district council level to recognise and plan for more recent heritage buildings.

Maritime heritage

For example, Tolaga Bay Wharf, but also including many wharves and maritime structures around the coast.

Significance - many wharves are historically significant for the movement of people, produce and ideas around New Zealand and beyond. Tolaga Bay Wharf in particular, has connections with farming and maritime heritage, concrete technology and has cultural significance for the people of the Bay who today are trying to raise funds for reports detailing options for its conservation. It has significance in terms of collective values when put in the context of the Cape and Tokomaru Bay Wharf and the like.

Threat - destruction, neglect, lack of recognition of heritage value and significance.

Possible Solutions - national inventory of maritime heritage, pro-active cultural heritage management planning at the district council level.

"Humble" heritage

For example, seaside baches

Significance - many examples of "humble" heritage can say more about New Zealand’s cultural and social identity and development than can grander gestures. An example is the seaside baches which encapsulate the Kiwi (New Zealand) sense of innovation, of "making-do", and of low-key technological solutions. Many baches are constructed of basic materials or may be a conversion of some other form, such as a railway carriage.

Threat - demolition, changed zoning and local government regulations, perceptions that "grander is better".

Possible Solutions - identify themes and types of "humble" heritage, undertake national inventories of humble heritage, including clusters of baches, work co-operatively with local government to regulate for the retention of humble heritage such as baches.

Historic heritage in conflict with natural heritage values

This is not being taken into account as part of the decision-making process for New Zealand’s apparent natural environment areas.

Significance – much of New Zealand’s Maori heritage and first settler heritage may be found within natural areas such as so-called wilderness areas, forests, and coastlines; they present an important story of human interaction with the natural environment.

Threat – the implicit assumption that natural heritage values take precedence over cultural heritage, the lack of understanding of historic heritage values, damage or destruction of historic heritage through maintenance or enhancement of natural heritage.

Possible Solutions - work more co-operatively with Department of Conservation, Regional and Local Councils and other land managers to educate them about historic heritage values, develop management plans and regimes (planting plans etc) which can adequately take account of both sets of values.


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