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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.

Risks related to impacts of infrastructure projects on heritage include:

  • Inadequate identification of impacts stops projects entirely.
  • Under or overinvestment in the maintenance of heritage sites acquired for projects, leading to preventable losses when the sites are sold on. 
  • Unexpected discovery of archaeological or cultural remains during the implementation of a project, which can cause significant delays and unforeseen cost.

The Transport Agency’s state highway environmental plan sets out formal objectives regarding cultural heritage. These are:

  • proactively limit the disturbance of significant cultural and heritage features along state highways.
  • for historic structures we own, show a respect for them and maintain their integrity. 

Additionally the following should be considered: 

  • Where avoidance is not possible, adequately mitigate adverse effects on historic heritage.
  • Provide for the use, and adaptive re-use of significant historic heritage places, without detracting from their historic heritage values.
  • Ensure a coordinated approach with stakeholders in the assessment of historic heritage values and effects.

Statutory requirements

Section 6(f) of the Resource Management Act (RMA) identifies the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use and development as a matter of national importance. The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 promotes the identification, protection, preservation and conservation of the historical and cultural heritage of New Zealand. It is administered by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (formerly the New Zealand Historic Places Trust). The Act contains specific provisions relating to the protection of archaeological sites, historic places and historic areas.

Further information on how to ensure the work you are doing complies with relevant legislation can be found in the Guide to assessing historic heritage effects for state highway projects.


Consultation should occur on a regular basis from the earliest strategic stage for the proposed project to identify risks, opportunities and potential benefits that could be included in an investment logic mapping process. The Transport Agency’s Public engagement guidelines contain useful information on the Transport Agency’s approach when engaging with the public and stakeholders.

For historic and cultural heritage the stakeholders include:

  • Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga
  • Department of Conservation
  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage
  • Regional and local councils
  • Tangata whenua- iwi/hapu and whanau
  • Land owners
  • Community groups especially historic societies.

To help maintain an effective working relationship with Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT) and facilitate early engagement of the HNZPT in state highway development and maintenance activities the Agency has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with HNZPT

How do we proactively limit the disturbance of significant cultural and heritage features along state highways?

We use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based methods to identify and manage risks to archaeological heritage, cultural heritage sites and monuments and memorials along the state highway network.

We also piloted predictive models for archaeological risks in two areas of New Zealand: 

a) SH12 Northland: A pilot project in Northland is summarised in the report: Archaeological Prediction for Road Asset Management [PDF, 5.1 MB].
b) Canterbury West Coast: A cultural heritage risk map has been developed in partnership with Heritage NZ and Kai Tahu.

How do we maintain the integrity of heritage structures we own/manage?

We have developed a draft inventory of all known items of heritage value owned by the Crown/NZTA and managed by us. The inventory includes assets scheduled by regional and district councils, assets listed by HNZPTA, pre-1900 assets (which are subject to the archaeological requirements of the HNZPTA), and other potentially significant historic heritage items.

To assist with the management of the heritage assets, the buildings, structures, sites and places identified on the inventory have been categorised as high or moderate, according to their level of significance:

  • High includes assets of high national or regional significance which have been evaluated and scheduled for protection on district plans (category A and B) and/or are listed by HNZPTA (category 1 and 2) and/or are listed in the IPENZ Engineering Heritage Register. It also includes those assets which are not scheduled or listed, but have been evaluated by a heritage professional and found to meet the criteria for scheduling or listing.
  • Moderate includes assets that have some regional or local heritage value but have not been assessed as meeting the criteria for scheduling on district plans under category A or B or listed by HNZPTA under category 1 or 2.

Management requirements for heritage assets will be explained in a draft guide for the management of historic heritage assets, which is currently under development.

For further information contact