2017 is shaping up to be a very busy year. The primary focus for many will be the national election which is scheduled to be held on the 23rd September. This provides an opportunity for those that value heritage to influence our politicians in a meaningful way. First, by challenging them with respect to what their party policies are towards the protection and funding for heritage and secondly by voting.
Historic Places Aotearoa will be working with several other like minded NGO’s over the coming months to prepare a document aimed at providing some guidance for the various political parties as to how we believe heritage should be managed. This is expected to look at 4 areas:-
1. Ideas around the formulation of a National Heritage Policy Statement. This is something that has been talked about for years but no government has been willing to progress this notion of what heritage really means to New Zealanders.
2. How government will manage its own built heritage resources. The destruction of the Category I listed Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre in 2016 shows that the current management of the Crown owned heritage buildings is woeful and needs to be overhauled. The Crown needs to lead by example when it comes to the care and management of our nations heritage.
3. Legislative Protection. What changes to the law are required to ensure that our most valuable heritage fabric is protected for future generations.
4. Funding and Initiatives. What funding and initiatives are required to ensure that the New Zealand public understand the importance of maintaining our heritage. It is unique and it is one of the things that defines us as New Zealanders, along with our forests and birds, our sporting, scientific and cultural achievements and our climate. Each one of these elements are important, but our built environment is not well looked after and built heritage is not well understood.
If you are reading this you are likely to be someone who believes that our built heritage is important and I encourage you to question your local politician about their views on our heritage before the election. The more people that do this the more likely it is the heritage will be have a voice within the walls of government.