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Conservation of historic and cultural heritage is part of the planning and delivery process for infrastructure projects undertaken by the NZ Transport Agency.

Historic heritage is defined in section 2 of the RMA as those natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s history and cultures, derived from the associated archaeological, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific or technical qualities they possess. Such resources include:

  • Historic sites, structures, places and areas; 
  • Archaeological sites;
  • Sites significant to Māori, including wāhi tapu/ wāhi tupuna; and 
  • Surroundings associated with these resources. 

The use of the phrase ‘cultural heritage’ is synonymous with the phrase ‘historic heritage’ and is often used interchangeably. Cultural heritage embraces places with meaning for people of all cultures - Māori, Pakeha, Pacific Islanders and migrant groups to New Zealand. It is usual to refer to places, sites and areas of significance and/or importance to Māori using this more precise language.

The requirement to protect historic heritage is largely facilitated through the policy and regulatory framework contained in regional policy statements and district plans of local authorities, including the need for a resource consent to be sought and obtained for any works that could have an adverse effect on identified heritage values.

Risks and opportunities

The consideration of heritage values is part of the decision framework for new transportation projects. In addition, the Transport Agency owns heritage structures which are part of the state highway network, and also manages heritage assets acquired during project development.

Standards, guidelines and specifications

State highways and their design, construction, operation and maintenance can potentially affect cultural and historic heritage. We have developed a number of documents to explain the Transport Agency’s expectations for minimum levels of service.

For further information contact