The lack of heritage policies in party manifestos a fortnight from the country’s General Election is disappointing, says the country’s independent voice for heritage Historic Places Aotearoa.
President James Blackburne says that, to date, only the Greens and New Zealand First have released a heritage-related policy.
“The other parties have either not formed a policy or are yet to present one. We find this extremely disappointing.
“Heritage is an intrinsic part of our country and the communities within it. It makes us who we are and makes us unique globally.
“With potential changes to the Resource Management Act looming, we are conscious and concerned that heritage will take a back seat,” he said.
“Heritage has an economic value for the New Zealand economy. New Zealand is not just about clean and green. Heritage is what a lot of people come to see and is an important part of domestic and international tourism. Heritage tourism visitors not only stay longer, they spend more money.”
Historic Places Aotearoa, which represents member organisations around the country, believes heritage should be visible, valued, indispensable and protected.
“We would like to see the parties offer the VIP treatment for heritage with funding and support for key public initiatives including a national heritage plaques programme, heritage awards and festivals.
“We believe funding should be boosted for key government initiatives such as Heritage Equip support to private building owners, Lotteries grants and tax incentives for heritage projects, and for the heritage team itself at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.”
Mr Blackburne said heritage agencies needed support with heritage prioritised for protection, planning and funding via local and central government.
“We need to create an environment where heritage becomes indispensable to the economic and social wellbeing of our communities. And we need strong legislation to protect privately and publicly owned heritage sites, as well as making provisions for sympathetic new development in character areas.
“Let’s hear what the parties are offering… and fast.”