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New laws offer better protection for heritage

New laws offer better protection for New Zealand's cultural heritage

Stronger safeguards for New Zealand's unique and significant cultural heritage apply from tomorrow.

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Stronger safeguards for New Zealand's unique and significant cultural heritage apply from tomorrow says Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard.

The new Protected Objects legislation, which replaces the 1975 Antiquities Act, is the result of a long period of review that began in the 1980s.

Key elements of the Protected Objects legislation include:

·Defines more precisely the objects that come under the Act, including changing the name of such objects from antiquities to protected objects;

·Streamlines the process of awarding ownership of newly-found taonga tuturu (formerly artifacts) to individuals and groups;

·Amends the penalty regime to make penalties for breach of the act more realistic and in line with other similar legislation; and

·Allows New Zealand to become party to the 1970 UNESCO and 1995 UNIDROIT Conventions which deal with the illegal trade in cultural objects.

"This legislation has a lot more teeth - it reflects the value New Zealanders are increasingly placing on their unique and significant cultural heritage. Under the new law, penalties for all offences will be significantly increased - up to five years imprisonment or up to a maximum of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for bodies corporate," the Minister said.

"Overall, the new legislation improves the clarity of definitions around protected objects generally. Most importantly it preserves the delicate balance between the national interest and private property rights that was established in the Antiquities Act 1975.

"A register has also been established for objects that cannot be exported because they are deemed to be of such significance that their export would substantially diminish New Zealand's cultural heritage," the Minister said.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is undertaking an information campaign to raise awareness of the changes and their practical impact.

ENDS

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