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 Wellington Incorporated (HPW). HPW seeks to have the opportunity to have a representative appear in support of its submission.
HPW has been formed as part of the national organisation Historic Places Aotearoa (HPA), to take over the role of the Wellington Branch Committee of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) which is being disestablished as a result of the Heritage New Zealand Bill.
The principal objects of HPW are to promote the identification, protection and conservation of historic places in the Wellington region, for the benefit of communities and the general public, and to inform, advise and educate the public on the significance of historic heritage.
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
Status of the Record
The Record replaces the Register created under the Historic Places Act 1993. The Register was founded on the NZHPT buildings classification system that operated from 1972. Thus the Register and its predecessor have been in operation for almost forty years. The Register has been compiled to high standards of research and assessment. Today the Register contains 5657 entries, made up of 983 Category One and 4404 Category Two. The Historic Places Act criteria and the Trust’s assessment system mean that Register status can be relied on to identify and measure heritage significance.
The Register is relied on by local authorities, community groups and owners in carrying out their roles and meeting their heritage preservation objectives.
The change of name to Record implies a downgrading of status and sends a negative signal to decision-makers and the community in general.
The SOP does not make clear whether the proposed Record continues the present register of historic places, or whether the compilation of the Record has to be undertaken de novo under the new legislation. Clause 63 of the Bill as introduced states that Heritage New Zealand “must continue and maintain the Register…. established under section 22 of the Historic Places Act 1993.” Clause 63 of the SOP does not include this wording, stating instead that “Heritage New Zealand…. must continue and maintain the Record, which succeeds the Register….established under section 22 of the Historic Places Act 1993.” (our emphasis).
The Explanatory Note to the SOP states that the SOP provisions “change the name of the Register to the Record”, suggesting that the present register will continue albeit changed. However, the use of the word “succeeds” in clause 63 quoted above suggests that the Record is a new entity. This has serious implications, because if the contents of the present Register are not carried forward to the new Record then the whole body of registrations compiled in various forms since 1980 will be lost. In addition, there are no savings provisions in either the Bill or the SOP which would carry forward the present registrations. Compare this with section 114 of the Historic Places Act 1993 which carried forward all classifications and registrations made under the Historic Places Act 1980.
The apparent omissions in the SOP could, if confirmed, do away with the contents of the present Register and deal a mortal blow to heritage protection in New Zealand. HPW recommends that the Committee examine this matter with a view to ensuring that all registrations made under the present Act are carried forward to the new Record.
Purposes of the Record
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. This is confirmed by the revised statement of purpose.
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”. (Our emphasis)
The present Historic Places Act section 22(2)(c) states that the purpose is to "assist historic places (etc) to be protected under the Resource Management Act" (Our emphasis)
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. HPW does not agree that there should be any downgrading of the current Register. We seek to have the present wording, as in the original Bill, retained.
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 is a new requirement which would impose additional and unnecessary costs on Heritage New Zealand.
Heritage New Zealand should have staff and advisors 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 interest 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 or reviews are made by the Minister, not Heritage New Zealand (clause 81C to E). This weakens the role of Heritage New Zealand.
- 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.
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. It also places onerous requirements on owners of listed properties.
Owners need to be encouraged rather than penalised for owning landmark historic places.
The present Register Category One already provides a highly credible identification of our most significant historic places.
Historic Places Wellington recommends that Subpart 2 of Part 4 of the SOP be struck out.
Historic Places Wellington Inc.