Declaration of Archaeological Sites

Post-1900 sites such as World War I or II gun emplacements or 20th century industrial sites such as gold mining sites, whaling stations, and sawmills are not currently protected under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, unless they have been declared by Heritage New Zealand as an archaeological site.

Declaration of sites
Former goldmining site at Bailey's Hill. Image: Crown copyright Shar Briden, Dept of Conservationexpand/collapse

An archaeological site is defined by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 as a place associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand, and any site that meets this definition is afforded automatic statutory protection under the Act.  

It is unlawful for any person to modify or destroy (or cause to be modified or destroyed) the whole or any part of an archaeological site without the prior authority of Heritage New Zealand.

Declaration by Heritage New Zealand of a post-1900 archaeological site provides a mechanism for protecting such sites.

Note : Post-1900 sites may be scheduled in a District/ Regional Plan, and therefore protected by the rules of that Plan which relate to historic heritage. 

What is the process for declaration?

Under the Act, a post-1900 site may be declared as an archaeological site if it is able to provide significant evidence relating to the historical and cultural heritage of New Zealand through investigation by archaeological methods.

The process for declaration is straightforward. If you wish to nominate a site for declaration, please contact archaeologist@heritage.org.nz for advice and information.

If the site meets the criteria under the Act, a proposal will then be prepared by Heritage New Zealand.  An archaeological assessment of the site will be prepared as part of the proposal, if one does not already exist, that details the historical and archaeological significance of the site and includes clear locational data along with maps, photos and other material. The proposal must then be approved by the Board of Heritage New Zealand.

What kind of protection does declaration afford?

Declaration of a post-1900 site as an archaeological site means that it is protected under the archaeological provisions of the Act. This means that it is unlawful to undertake any activity that may modify or destroy the site, unless authorised (under an archaeological authority) by Heritage New Zealand.

How many post-1900 archaeological sites have been declared by Heritage New Zealand?

To date, Heritage New Zealand has declared seven post-1900 archaeological sites. These are:

  • The Napier Prison Wall, 55 Coote Road Napier, (registered as a Category 1 historic place)
  • The Makatote Tramway, State Highway 4, Erua (registered as a Category 2 historic place)
  • 20th century goldmining sites, Remarkables Conservation Area, Upper Nevis, Central Otago
  • 20th century components of Clark’s and Holland’s Pottery Brickworks site, Limeburners Bay (not registered)
  • Featherston Military Training Camp, State Highway 2, Featherston (registered as a Category 1 historic place)
  • Norwegian Whalers’ Base, Price’s Inlet, Rakiura/ Stewart Island (not registered)
  • SS Ventnor shipwreck, Hokianga Harbour Mouth (not registered)
If you know of other important and at-risk 20th century archaeological sites and would like to nominate a site to be considered for declaration, please contact archaeologist@heritage.org.nz.
Upper Nevis Conservation Area
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Remarkables goldmining sites

The Upper Nevis portion of the Remarkables Conservation Area includes a high concentration of gold-mining sites such as water races, tailing, miner's huts, sluice faces and dredge ponds.

These sites cover a period of approximately 130 years from the 19th century to the 20th century, and some sites have evidence of both pre-1900 and post-1900 use.  This combination of 19th and 20th century goldmining heritage posed a difficulty with regards to their protection under the archaeological provisions of the Act, but the declaration of the 20th century goldmining remains means that all goldmining sites within the Upper Nevis component of the Remarkables Conservation Area are now protected.

The image at left shows the location of the Upper Nevis Remarkables Conservation Area (shaded red).

The photo at the top of this page shows hydraulic ponds, tailing, sluice faces and 20th century miners' huts (now used as holiday cribs) at Bailey's Hill, in the Upper Nevis Remarkables Conservation Area.