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New Zealand's state highway network closely aligns with the traditional trails and tracks that connected early settlements. Towns and cities have grown up around these routes leading to buildings and settings that talk to the stories and character of these places. While buildings, monuments, bridges and tunnels are visible in the landscape, many of New Zealand’s archaeological sites including pa, midden and Māori burial sites are not. State highway activities have the potential to damage or disturb these places of cultural, archaeological and historic importance including places of significance to Māori.

The Resource Management Act (1991) and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 provide strong legislative support for the protection of culture and heritage within New Zealand, which means we give particular consideration to the effects of state highways on cultural and historic heritage values.

How state highways can affect cultural and historic heritage

State highway activities including construction and network maintenance have the potential to adversely affect cultural and historic heritage through:

  • earthworks that damage in-ground archaeological material

  • demolition or relocation of buildings and structures

  • rendering structures redundant and obsolete

  • vibration and ground dewatering during and post construction the loss of the heritage character of an area 

Our commitment to cultural and historic heritage

We have developed a number of initiatives to help us to meet our commitments including:

  • proactively limiting the disturbance of significant cultural and heritage features along state highways

  • showing respect for the heritage buildings we own and maintaining their integrity

  • exploring adaptive reuse options for heritage structures that provide an ongoing use

  • maintaining a memorandum of understanding with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • development of a guide to assessing historic heritage effects for state highway projects

  • maintaining a heritage inventory

  • developing minimum standards for what needs to be done if archaeological remains are accidentally discovered

  • preparing a guideline to assist with the management of heritage assets

  • research to develop a tool to measure the economic value of heritage.

Relevant legislation

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014

The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 promotes the identification, protection, preservation and conservation of the historical and cultural heritage of New Zealand. It is administered by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (formerly the Historic Places Trust). The act contains specific provisions relating to the protection of archaeological sites, historic places and historic areas.

Read the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014(external link)

Other legislation

The Protected Objects Act 1975 regulates the export of protected New Zealand objects, the illegal export and import of protected New Zealand and foreign objects, and the sale, trade and ownership of objects relating to Māori culture.

Read the Protected Objects Act 1975(external link)

The Conservation Act 1987 and the Reserves Act 1977 promote the conservation of New Zealand's natural and historic resources.

Read the Conservation Act 1987(external link)

Read the Reserves Act 1977(external link)