New Zealand's contribution to the first Heritage at Risk report, in August 2000, highlighted a number of issues of concern to our heritage industry. They noted specific places at risk, including the Auckland volcanic landscape and the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve. The report also listed types of heritage or themes at risk, including New Zealand's archaeological heritage and associated cultural landscapes impacted by urbanisation and subdivision in the northern North Island, New Zealand's earliest colonial heritage and associated cultural landscapes threatened by encroaching incompatible development, New Zealand's modern (post-1940s) buildings, maritime heritage, historic heritage in conflict with natural heritage values, and 'humble' heritage. These places and issues still largely remain at risk: little has changed in governance or public perception to give them greater security. Members of the New Zealand heritage sector also note the following places and themes at risk in New Zealand:

Archaeological sites under threat from rural farming

Sites representative of New Zealand's first Polynesian and European settlers.


Farming is a major part of New Zealand's economy: internal resources and external exports rely heavily on the farming industry. In addition, New Zealand has a strong ethos of private property rights, and many landowners resist the perception that their land and everything on it is not theirs to do with what they will. There is a common misconception in the farming industry that the presence of archaeological sites will prevent the economic use or development of the land.

Possible Solutions

Education of landowners as to the nature and implications of the archaeological resource, and especially of its value and significance. Better co-ordination with local government management systems and rules in district plans.

Coastal archaeological sites susceptible to sea erosion

A high percentage of pre-European sites is located along the coast. They are significant not only because they relate to New Zealand's first people but also because so many of them are impacted.


Rising sea level, apparent increasing storminess, destabilisation of dunes by recreational vehicles.

Possible Solutions

Survey to assess damage and set priorities, either for remedial action or, failing that, urgent excavation (preservation by record). Participation of all key stakeholders is required (Maori tribal groups, NZ Historic Places Trust, territorial and regional authorities, Department of Conservation).

New Zealand's railway heritage

The industrial and cultural heritage including structures, archaeological sites, cultural landscapes (urban and rural) and railway settlements, sites and wider communities such as Frankton Junction, Raurimu and Taihape.

Over the last 15 years, since the restructuring of New Zealand's national railway system, all 19th- and 20th- century railway properties have been sold into private ownership and there are now very few railway workers - this is leading to the loss of railway communities, their social structures and buildings. Of the ten 20th-century planned settlements based on garden suburb ideals, two have been lost (Newmarket and Taihape) while the remaining settlements are under the increasing threat of urbanism, subdivision and infill housing (in both urban and rural areas), and building removal (in rural areas). Substantial removal of rural railway houses has taken place. The New Zealand 19th-century railway row is also under increased threat as people seek houses for relocation, and as the 'railway row' has yet to be recognised officially as heritage. Along with the housing communities are the railway lines, the stations and associated buildings, both urban and rural, and associated buildings such as shops and halls. Many lines have been removed and a number of stations closed, sold off and/or removed including buildings built up to the 1950s.


Urbanism, house removal, vandalism.

Possible solutions

Strengthen historical context of railway in the development of New Zealand at school and community levels. National heritage survey of railway places and the degree of risk and solutions identified.

Public & Commercial interiors of the early 20th century

  • A significant record of the built environment - of 'going to town' when New Zealand was still predominantly rural.
  • A record of interior design by both private people/architects and government architects.
  • Increased rarity value due to extensiveness of loss of original interiors.
  • The loss of the use of many significant buildings such as Post Offices and large department stores in the last ten years from restructuring has led to many interiors being stripped of decorative and sometimes structural materials. In places such as Hamilton, only one or two interiors from pre-1950s remain intact - none have protection at regional or local level.

Redevelopment, façadism, cafe development.

Possible solution

Protection at regional and local government level through District Schemes/rules. Education on early 20th heritage.

Loss of domestic heritage in growing urban/city centres

These places are significant in telling the story of the growth of towns/cities.


High developmental pressure as land prices increase.

Possible solutions

Zoning areas of cities/towns as residential and removing the expectation of being able to develop. Protecting the historic heritage by listing as heritage items on district plans.

Historic cemeteries

Representative of early religious beliefs and social mores.


Neglect, lack of funds to conserve, and a general lack of appreciation by New Zealanders of their significance as an historic record and resource.

Possible solutions

Education, adoption by local community groups, research as to wider significance.

ICOMOS New Zealand