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Heritage Bill direction supported

MEDIA RELEASE – For immediate use, 31 January 2013

Heritage Bill direction supported

The New Zealand Law Society says it supports the overall direction being taken by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill.

The Bill replaces the Historic Places Act 1993 and is being considered by Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee.

New Zealand Law Society Environmental Law Committee member Phil Page presented the Law Society submission to the committee today.

He says the Law Society particularly supports changes to the archaeological authority process to align this with the Resource Management Act 1991 and the introduction of new emergency authorities after the recent Christchurch earthquakes.

The submission looks at a number of specific matters contained in the Bill and recommends some changes aimed at making it better achieve its purposes, plus a number of technical suggestions relating to archaeological sites, registration of historic places, historic areas, wāhi tapu and wāhi tapu areas.

The Explanatory Note to the Bill says it re-balances heritage values against values associated with private ownership.

While the purpose and principles set out in clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill carefully describe a range of reasons for the preservation of heritage resources, the Law Society says they provide no recognition that there are competing, or even conflicting, interests in historical and cultural heritage resources in New Zealand.

“The experience of practitioners in this field is that such conflict does exist (and is acknowledged by Part 3 of the Bill), and accordingly it should be recognised by the purpose and principles of the legislation.

“The purpose and principles of the Bill, which are focused on conservation and preservation, do not give statutory support to decision-makers to authorise ‘harm’ to an archaeological site. It is submitted that the exercise of some functions under the Bill, for example granting archaeological authorities, would be assisted by the purpose and principles of the Bill recognising that competing values and interests are held in the heritage and historical resources of New Zealand,” Mr Page says.

The Law Society recommends that clauses 3 and 4 are amended to require decision-makers to balance competing interests in historical and cultural heritage resources in achieving the purpose of the Bill.

Contact: For further information please contact Phil Page, member of the Law Society’s Environmental Law Committee, (027) 487 2912.

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