Our Cultural and Historic Heritage

What is the best way to identify and protect our historic and cultural heritage?

Nominate a site or building. 


What is historic heritage?

The protection of historic heritage from subdivision, use and development that is inappropriate is a matter of national importance. Historic heritage is defined in the Resource Management Act as the natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s history and cultures, deriving from any of the following qualities:

  • Archaeological
  • Architectural
  • Cultural
  • Historic
  • Scientific
  • Technological

It includes historic sites, structures, places and areas, archaeological sites, sites of significance to Māori, including wāhi tapu, and surroundings associated with the natural and physical resources.

Why is historic and cultural heritage important?

Our District is rich in both the structures and sites that remain, and the intangible values associated with our ancestors. Not only does heritage provide us with a connection to the people who lived before us, but it helps define who we are and contributes to our sense of place.

Who is responsible for looking after our historic heritage?

We have to develop and maintain a schedule of known historic heritage and include it in our District Plan. It is the District Council’s responsibility to look after historic and cultural heritage on land, and in the beds of rivers and lakes.

The Waikato Regional Council is responsible for identifying and managing historic heritage in the coastal marine area (generally the seaward boundary from Mean High Water Spring to the territorial sea limit 12 nautical miles offshore).

Our new District Plan will need a range of provisions to enable the protection of the diverse elements that contribute to our historic heritage including buildings and structures, archaeological and cultural sites, and sites of significance to Māori.

Buildings and Structures

Heritage New Zealand maintains the New Zealand Heritage List. At the moment there are 15 heritage sites of National and District significance included in the current District Plan. We plan to work with Heritage New Zealand, and where possible, with local groups to better catalogue the built heritage of the District. 

Archaeological sites

An archaeological site as a place associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand. Heritage New Zealand looks after the many different types of archaeological sites in our District. The New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA) owns and manages the national database of archaeological records, the Site Recording Scheme. The current District Plan maps the NZAA sites and has policies and rules that protect these sites.

Cultural sites

Historic heritage includes cultural sites and sites of significance to Māori, including wāhi tapu. The Current District Plan identifies 129 Heritage Sites on the Planning Maps as sites of cultural importance to Māori, natural features, remnant bush, and individual trees. Council will need to work closely with Iwi to ensure that cultural sites and sites of significance to Māori are properly identified and protected.

How do we identify and protect our historic and cultural heritage?

The Waikato Regional Policy Statement has assessment criteria which will help us to identify the different qualities of the historic or cultural item. The document also includes Māori culture and traditions assessment criteria:

  • Mauri
  • Wāhi tapu
  • Kōrero-o-mua (historical)
  • Rawa tūturu (customary resources)
  • Hiahiatanga tūturu (customary needs)
  • Whakaaronui o te wa (contemporary esteem)

Heritage New Zealand also have inventory sheets which staff and volunteers will be using to document the history of a site or building.  The inventory sheets help to provide a background and context to the area or structure. Once we have collected as much information as we can, we will collate the data using heritage experts and local Iwi to assist us, and then we will talk to the landowners about the options available to look after the identified heritage values.

Our Cultural and Historic Heritage