HERITAGE NEW ZEALAND POUHERE TAONGA BILL
As reported from the Local Government and Environment Select Committee
A Commentary Prepared for Historic Places Aoteoroa
By John Daniels
The Local Government and Environment Select Committee has heard submissions on the Bill and has deliberated on these for some months. The Committee has now reported back to Parliament with its findings on the submissions, and recommendations for changes to the Bill.
This commentary focuses on the changes made by the Select Committee. I have highlighted issues of interest to Historic Places Aotearoa and its member societies, particularly those which may have a bearing on HPA’s future strategic direction. On the other hand, some parts of the Bill, such as the archaeological provisions, do not greatly concern HPA and member societies, and I have not dealt with these in any depth.
For a full explanation of the Committee’s changes, please refer to the Commentary section at the start of the Bill as reported from the Committee.
The Committee recommends amending clause 4 to widen the range of parties that Heritage New Zealand (HNZ) must work with to include tangata whenua and central Government agencies.
This may mean that HNZ becomes more tied in with central Government, and will be seen more as a Government agency than at present. This may mean that HNZ will distance itself more from non-Government bodies such as HPA.
Special adviser to HNZ
The Committee recommends amending clauses 10A and 10B to allow the Minister to appoint the chief executive of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage as special adviser to the board of HNZ. The committee says that this is to facilitate the flow of information between the Minister and the board on government policy issues.
This change would reinforce the perception of HNZ becoming more of a Government agency than at present. The term “special adviser” seems to imply that the chief executive would have a more influential role than other board members and outside stakeholders such as HPA.
Functions and powers
The Committee recommends amending clause 11 to require HNZ to recognise landowners’ interest when fulfilling its advocacy functions under subclause (1)(b).
The Committee also recommends amending clause 12(1)(a) to “make clear the nature and extent of the HNZ advocacy role” by stipulating that it is limited to advocating its interests in a public forum or a statutory planning process in which it has standing under an Act.
The full implications of this change are not yet clear, but they definitely signal a desire to limit HNZ’s advocacy role. For example, public advocacy for heritage in general terms would seem to be ruled out. This change could mean that HPA and other non-government bodies will be left to fill the gaps left as HNZ withdraws from the field. The challenge for HPA and member societies is obvious.
The Committee recommends amending clause 14(2) to give HNZ 18 months to prepare general policy statements, rather than 12 months as in the original Bill. This is to allow time for public consultation and deliberations.
This change will allow for better input from HPA and other heritage stakeholders.
HNZ will also be required to issue a general policy statement for its statutory advocacy role.
Most of the committee’s changes in this part of the Bill are for clarification and machinery matters. However, it is interesting to note that it recommends changing clause 40 to remove the requirement to apply for an archaeological authority to modify or destroy a standing building unless it is being demolished in its entirety. This removes an anomaly that would have required an owner to apply for an archaeological authority for any maintenance or alterations on a building. This would have duplicated requirements in district plans and building controls for no clear benefit.
Registration of historic places
After the original Bill was introduced, the Minister introduced a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) making significant changes to the register clauses. One of these would have changed to term “Register” to “Record”. The Committee has recommended against this change, and instead recommends that the title be changed to “New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero”.
The original proposed name “Record”, and to some extent the new term “List”, seem to indicate a desire to downgrade its status. On the other hand, the term “List” has an international currency for heritage buildings and is in line with United Kingdom terminology.
The Committee also recommends amending clause 63 to make it clear that all entries in the existing register are deemed to be continued in the heritage list. This clarification was strongly advocated by HPA and member societies.
National Historic Landmarks List
This new provision was criticised by HPA and member societies on several grounds. The committee has recommended changes to accommodate some of these.
It recommends inserting a new clause 81A to make it clear that entries in the List could include a landmark incorporating more than one building or site, such as an art deco precinct or the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
It also recommends amending clause 81B by removing the provision that the List not include more than 50 places at one time. The criteria for listing would remain, but the removal of the number limit, which would have undermined the credibility of the list, is a definite improvement.
The National Historic Landmarks List will obviously be very influential in determining priorities for protection and expenditure by central and local government. HPA and member societies will want to participate fully in the selection process by presenting proposals with maximum credibility and community support. This will be important to guard against the process being dominated by Government priorities.
The Committee also recommends that HNZ be required to NZ be reuiuqred tio adopt a general policy HNZHH
develop a general policy for administration of the List.
Branch committees dissolved
The Committee recommends amending clause 100 to require HNZ to take reasonable and practicable steps to support new heritage groups formed to replace branch committees in the 12 months following enactment of the Bill. The Committee says that although some support is being given “there is concern that sufficient support might not be available”.
The Committee was not prepared to recommend the transfer of members to a new membership structure. This means that the present NZHPT membership will continue with HNZ.
Once the Bill is passed, HPA should, as a priority, take up with HNZ how it will implement the requirement to assist new heritage groups. Financial assistance is an obvious priority.
The possibility of HNZ publicising through its “Heritage” magazine the benefits of membership of HPA and its societies should also be pursued.