To: The Local Government & Environment Select Committee
On: The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill - Supplementary Order Paper 135
This Submission is made by Historic Places Aotearoa (HPA). HPA seeks to have the opportunity to have a representative appear in support of its submission.
HPA has been formed as a National organisation to take over the role of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) in representing and co-ordinating the activities of new regional heritage societies which will replace the 21 Branch Committees of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust which will be dis-established by this legislation.
The effect of the Bill, if passed, is to alter the structures and functions of the NZHPT, meaning that the groups of volunteers around the country that have comprised the membership of the NZHPT Branch Committees need to re-form themselves into new organisations if they are to continue their heritage activities. HPA has been set up as the new parent body for such regional groups.
This submission deals primarily with Part 4 of the Supplementary Order Paper, which deals with the Record of historic places and the National Historic Landmarks List.
Subpart 1 – Provisions relating to the Record
Purposes of the Record
The Historic Places Act 1993 established the ‘Register of Historic Places, Historic Areas, Wahi Tapu and Wahi Tapu areas”.
The proposed Record as set out in clause 63 is similar to the present Register, with the two-category system retained. However, the new name suggests a downgrading of status and is considered to be less authoritative than ‘Register’. It also does not reflect the rigour of the registration process.
There are known and acceptable ‘names’ that describe the intent of having a special category for historic heritage – register, list or schedule. Internationally, for example, in Canada, Scotland, Ireland and the US they use the term ‘Historic and Listed Buildings’ while in Australia and England they use ‘National Heritage List’. In New Zealand for example, Auckland ‘schedule’ and Christchurch ‘list’. ‘List’ is accepted and recognised universally.
Historic Places Aotearoa recommends that the Committee reconsider
Clause 63(2) retains two of the statements of purpose in section 22 of the Historic Places Act - public information and notification to owners. However, the third purpose is now proposed "to be a source of information about historic places, historic areas, waahi tuupuna, waahi tapu, waahi tapu areas for the purposes of sections 61, 66, and 74 of the Resource Management Act”.
The present Historic Places Act section 22(2)(c) states that the purpose is the "assist historic places (etc) to be protected under the Resource Management Act
The new wording clearly weakens the intent of the Record as compared with the Register, making it a less effective instrument to protect historic heritage. HPA does not agree that there should be any downgrading of the current Register.
Historic Places Aotearoa recommends that the Committee reconsider the term ‘record’ for either status quo ‘register’ or alternatively ‘list’.
A further point of submission which is of importance to HPA is that there be provision in the legislation for what is now called the Register, and what is proposed to be called the Record, to be linked to the Resource Management Act so that there is an explicit obligation for territorial authorities to show all such recognised historic places or landmarks in their District Plans. This is seen ny HPA as a vital aspect of heritage retention.
Clauses 64A and 64B require the appointment of independent assessors where an entry on the record is proposed by Heritage New Zealand or the Maori Heritage Council. This adds an extra cost to the process. Heritage New Zealand should have staff with the expertise to make assessments, with oversight by the Board and Council. Additional scrutiny would be provided by the submission process under clause 67.
Clause 67 widens the scope of who can make a submission on an application to include a place on the Record. The present Act gives this right to parties with a direct or indirect interested in the property. Under the new clause "any person" may do this. While this change might increase community input into proposals for the Record, it could also place undue burdens and expense on Heritage New Zealand.
Subpart 2 - National Historic Landmarks List
Subpart 2 of Part 4 sets up a new National Historic Landmarks List of places of outstanding national heritage value (clause 81B).
The principal features are
- The purposes of the List are to promote appreciation of listed places, and their conservation, including protection from natural disasters. There is no mention of protection in the legal sense (clause 81B(2)). This statement of purpose is weak, and does not justify the high status that the name seems to imply.
- "Strong evidence of broad national and community support" is required for inclusion on the List (clause 81B(4)). This sets a very high bar for inclusion, and such evidence could be difficult to verify.
- The list is limited to 50 places (clause 81B(5)). This is extremely restrictive, and would make compilation of a truly representative national list of outstanding heritage value virtually impossible.
- Decisions on inclusion are made by the Minister, not Heritage New Zealand (clause 81C(1)).
- Places included must have prior legal protection, owners must agree, and owners must have a prior risk management plan (clause 81C(4)). These requirements would work against achieving a credible national list. They place burdens on willing owners, while giving the unwilling an easy opt-out right.
- The Minister may review the List (clause 81D(1)).
- The owner or a person with an interest may request a review of a listed place. The review is conducted by Heritage New Zealand but the application is decided by the Minister (clause 81E).
It is not clear if the ‘list’ would include ‘natural heritage’ places as well as ‘built heritage’ places. If it includes both then that restricts even further the already various and numerous categories of the built heritage environment within New Zealand – spiritual, industrial, commercial, educational, governmental, residential, agricultural and so on.
In summary, the proposed List does not live up to its stated purposes and would not be a truly National Historic Landmarks List. It would be very restricted in nature and the proposed criteria could make it impossible to include some highly significant places on the List. Owners need to be encouraged rather than penalised for owning landmark historic places.
HPA recommends that any ‘Historic Landmark List’ be exclusively for the built heritage environment.
Historic Places Aotearoa recommends that the Committee reconsider Subpart 2 of Part 4 of the Bill.
Historic Places Aotearoa
C/- R S M Law
17 Strathallan Street
P O Box 557
03 687 9777 (day)