“ICOMOS NEW ZEALAND celebrates 18 April International Day for Monuments and Sites” (2017) ICOMOS Media Release

ICOMOS NEW ZEALAND celebrates 18 April International Day for Monuments and Sites

Tuesday April the 18th has been designated by ICOMOS as the International Day for monuments. The day was first celebrated in 1983 at the recommendation of UNESCO.

ICOMOS is the acronym for the International Council on Monuments and Sites. We are a non-governmental international cultural heritage organisation dedicated to the application of theory, methodology and scientific techniques for the conservation of buildings, historic cities, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites.

The Media Release continues : (This Media Release was sourced from SCOOP)

ICOMOS New Zealand is a network of experts who benefit from interdisciplinary exchange of its members. Our members include architects, conservators, historians, archaeologists, art historians, planners, engineers, town planners and project managers.

Each year there is a different theme to the Day and this year the theme is “Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism”. While heritage is important for the values it has for local and national communities it also has a value for tourism.

New Zealand earns about 24 billion dollars every year from tourism and is the most important export sector, even eclipsing dairying. A significant part of the tourist experience in NZ is visiting our cultural heritage places. Tourists will learn about our culture and history through visiting heritage places. Funding earned by tourist dollars contributes a great deal towards the on-going conservation of the buildings and sites. At the same time tourists can put the more vulnerable places at risk through wear and tear. Achieving a balance is a key issue for managers of heritage places.

I recently walked the Inca trail, which concluded with visiting Macchu Picchu. This is a large Inca settlement with extensive archaeological remains and is a World Heritage site. Because of the incredible history and wonderful scenery of the site, it is a major tourist destination. The Peruvian government has wisely restricted numbers to the site so that the incredible stone walls built without mortar, the steep steps, retaining walls and other structures of this sacred place can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

When visiting historic houses and buildings in the UK and elsewhere often visitors are required to remove their shoes and wear slippers. Historic wallpapers are protected from people touching them by Perspex sheets near doorways. Without these important means of protection, the valuable fabric can be worn away or dirtied so that original colours and textures and the fabric itself can be lost.

New Zealand sites are also potentially at risk. Old St Paul’s in Wellington is one of the most visited sites in the country. It is constructed of timber which is vulnerable to wear especially from people’s shoes. While floor boards can be replaced they will no longer be the authentic materials from which the church was made. New Zealand has significant rock art sites in caves. Just breathing by visitors can cause deterioration of the paintwork and stone. The paintings can be touched up but they will no longer be the original paintings and will lose authenticity.

Publicising our heritage places and welcoming visitors will enhance an understanding of our unique culture and history not only for tourists but also locals who may not be aware of their own heritage buildings and sites. Presenting heritage places so that people not only understand this heritage but also the dangers inherent making it publicly accessible are challenging. Ensuring sustainable heritage tourism is the key focus of the 18th of April.

Tourists and local alike, please experience and enjoy our heritage places and sites, but be aware of the issues around conserving them so that our descendants can appreciate them too.

For further information concerning the International Day for Monuments and Sites or the work of ICOMOS New Zealand, please visit http://icomos.org.nz/ or https://www.facebook.com/ICOMOSNZ/

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