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New Zealand wins seat on World Heritage Committee

16 October 2003 Media Statement

New Zealand wins seat on World Heritage Committee


New Zealand has been elected to the World Heritage Committee for the first time and by a record majority, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

The World Heritage Committee is the global watchdog for cultural and natural heritage. It aims to protect the world's most outstanding and precious monuments and heritage sites.

"New Zealand won a place on the committee after a vote which saw us backed by 100 of the 163 countries which took part. This is an unprecedented majority and a significant achievement for New Zealand," Mr Goff and Mr Carter said.

Ngati Tuwharetoa Paramount Chief Tumu te Heuheu will be New Zealand's representative.

"Elections for the World Heritage Committee are widely regarded as one of the toughest at the United Nations. At one stage there were 33 candidates running for eight seats – a little more than one in four chance of getting elected," the Ministers said.

"This result reflects New Zealand’s standing in the international community, and it is particularly fitting that Tumu will be our representative. New Zealand worked hard to promote out case around the world and we are very pleased with this result.

"New Zealand's decision to nominate Tumu reflects our commitment to partnership with Maori, including in an important international setting like the World Heritage Committee."

The Ministers said New Zealand had stood on behalf of all Pacific nations, rather than simply in its own right, and Tumu would work to develop a World Heritage programme for the region.

"The Pacific region is culturally rich and this is an opportunity for New Zealand and the wider community of Pacific Island nations to have their voices heard. New Zealand is committed to not only protect our own natural and cultural heritage, but to also support of that of our Pacific Island neighbours."

The Committee is responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention, to which New Zealand became a party in 1984. Parties to the convention, which include 176 countries, agree to ensure that they protect their natural and cultural heritage.

The committee assesses applications for sites to be added to the World Heritage List, and for monitoring listed sites to ensure they are properly managed. It also allocates finance from the World Heritage Fund for repair or restoration.

ENDS

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