Heritage covenants

Heritage covenants are voluntary agreements under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, which are agreed to by a property owner for the purpose of protecting and conserving a historic place, historic area, wahi tapu, or wahi tapu area.

Oruawharo Homestead, Takapau
Oruawharo Homstead, Takapau has a covenant registered over it. Image: Peter Harrisexpand/collapse

These covenants can be agreed over a variety of different types of historic places such as private homes, archaeological sites, commercial buildings, public buildings, farm buildings and other sites of significance to Maori.

A property does not have to be entered on the List with Heritage New Zealand in order to be covenanted, but it must meet the definition of a historic place specified in the Heritage New Zealand Act 2014.

A heritage covenant is usually permanently registered against the land title and places conditions on the management and use of the place or wahi tapu.  These restrictions will operate to protect the historic place for the future and are legally binding on all subsequent owners.  A heritage covenant is therefore a very important mechanism for long term heritage protection.  Covenants can be unregistered in certain circumstances and can be for a defined number of years.

Heritage covenants can arise in a number of ways:

  • Through the request of an owner to ensure long term protection of their property
  • Through the requirements for protection of places or areas as part of the resource consenting process
  • As a condition of a grant under National Heritage Preservation Incentive fund
  • As a means to mitigate or prevent damage to archaeological sites.

Heritage covenants can be varied or cancelled by agreement between Heritage New Zealand and the owners of the property where it is in the best interests of safeguarding the properties long-term conservation or the historic place has been destroyed.

For more information on heritage covenants or for a specific inquiry, contact our legal team in National Office, Wellington.