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Conservation Minister Welcomes RMA Changes

MEDIA RELEASE 14 JULY 1999

MINISTER WELCOMES RMA AMENDMENTS FOR HISTORIC HERITAGE

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today announced a package of proposed amendments to the Resource Management Act, relating to historic heritage. The amendments are included in the Resource Management Amendment Bill introduced into Parliament by the Minister for the Environment last night and due to be debated tonight.

"The package arises out of the historic heritage management review I initiated in 1998. The review followed a critical report in 1996 by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment which concluded that the system for protection of historic and cultural heritage was performing very poorly. The review identified a confused regulatory environment for historic heritage, with both the Historic Places Act and the Resource Management Act affecting heritage buildings and sites. The review recommended that the regulatory provisions should be consolidated and streamlined under the Resource Management Act. The recommendations of the review have received strong public support."

"The proposed amendments will enhance the provisions for historic heritage in the Resource Management Act, and will transfer the regulation of archaeological sites from the Historic Places Act to the Resource Management Act. The proposals place the decision-making processes for historic heritage as close as possible to the affected communities of interest, providing for maximum local iwi and community involvement and consultation."

There will be provisions for a staged transition relating to archaeological sites. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust will retain responsibility for the administration of archaeological authorities under the Historic Places Act until local authority regulatory responsibility for archaeological sites begins.

"Arrangements will be put in place to assist local government to make a successful transition to its enhanced responsibilities for historic heritage management. The Government has agreed that a National Policy Statement for historic heritage should be prepared within two years of amendment to the Resource Management Act. Non-statutory guidance on suitable policies, methods, rules and practices will also be made available."

"The introduction of this legislation is a major step forward for heritage protection in New Zealand. It brings clarity to a policy that has been confused and gives greater certainty to the protection of New Zealand's heritage." ENDS

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