The following is the text of an article by Elizabeth Pishief that appeared in Oculus (September 2021).
I was part of a working group of HPA and ICOMOS New Zealand members that prepared a joint submission to the Environment Committee Inquiry on the ‘exposure draft’ of the Natural and Built Environments Bill (NBE Bill) and the associated parliamentary paper.
This bill is intended to replace the Resource Management Act 1991, which no longer adequately protects the natural or cultural environment while allowing for appropriate development.
We collectively believe cultural heritage in its many forms (eg, archaeological sites, cultural landscapes, buildings, objects, wāhi tapū, and wāhi tūpuna places) provides an understanding of New Zealand’s development, and the sense of place and connection between people and their environment that contribute to individual and national wellbeing. We think that replacing ‘historic heritage’ with the term ‘cultural heritage’ better reflects the breadth of our current and evolving heritage including intangible heritage such as sacred mountains and recent built heritage like post-war/early modernist buildings. It is crucial Parliament hears how ordinary people and communities value cultural heritage.
The following is the text of the Historic Places Canterbury Submission on the Natural and Built Environment Bill Exposure Draft.
Submitter Details Full Name:Historic Places Canterbury Contact: Lynne Lochhead
Submission to the Environment Committee Inquiry on the Natural and Built Environments Bill Exposure Draft
Historic Places Canterbury (HPC), an independent regional society affiliated to Historic Places Aotearoa (HPA). HPC is the NZHPT (now Heritage New Zealand) approved body which the Canterbury Branch Committee transitioned to. Our objectives are the protection of heritage, providing local advocacy on heritage and promoting the education of the public in their appreciation of heritage values.
HPC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill. We note that the exposure draft only deals with a selection of provisions and that others are yet to be drafted. For this reason it is difficult to know how the drafted provisions will relate to the still to be drafted provisions and what impact the full draft might have on views. Nevertheless there are a number of matters which we wish to address in relation to the exposure draft. Given our role as an organization concerned with promoting protection of heritage our comments will largely address the impact of the Bill on managing and protecting cultural heritage in New Zealand.
HPC supports the need for a major reform of resource management law. The existing legislation, despite an emphasis on sustainability, has failed to adequately manage the natural environment, with key environmental indicators getting worse every year. lt has also proven to be insufficiently responsive to major issues such as global warming. Numerous amendments over time have resulted in an Act that is cumbersome and increasingly complex. A complete overhaul is timely.
HPC welcomes the emphasis on pursuing positive outcomes within clearly defined environmental limits and the emphasis on a national planning framework. However we feel concern that despite the name of the Bill, the importance of the built environment is downgraded in this draft and that cultural heritage is significantly downgraded from its status under s. 6 of the RMA as a matter of national importance.