Emergency archaeological authority process

A simplified and streamlined process has been set up to quickly consider work that affects archaeological sites in areas where a civil defence emergency or a local or national transition period has been notified.

Any work related to the emergency that is required "for the purposes of saving or protecting life or preventing serious damage to property or any historic place" (s94 of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act), can go ahead without the need for an archaeological authority.

An archaeological authority (under Subpart 3 Emergency Authorities, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014) may be required for all other work which will modify or destroy an archaeological site. The application form for an emergency authority can be found here (pdf, 0.5MB).

Heritage New Zealand must process Emergency Authorities within three (3) days after having received an application, or five (5) days where the application relates to a site of interest to Maori. Following the issue of the authority, an appeal period of 14 days applies before the authority may be exercised.

For help and advice about the emergency archaeological authority process see the contact details included at the back of the application form.


Emergency archaeological authorities issued for:

COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020

  • Relates nationally.

If you believe that an emergency authority is needed, please first discuss the circumstances for which the emergency authority is needed with either:

  • Vanessa Tanner, Manager Archaeology  phone 027 6089537, or
  • Frank van der Heijden, Senior Archaeologist  027 6889741

Please note the emergency process will be available ONLY for work needed on archaeological sites to enable essential businesses to continue to be provided or maintained.   Please see www.covid19.govt.nz and refer to the information below before making an authority application.

Magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake, 2016

  • Relates to the districts of Kaikoura District Council, Canterbury, Hurunui District Council, Marlborough District Council and Wellington City Council.

Cyclone Cook, Bay of Plenty, 2017

  • Relates to the districts of Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Rotorua District Council, Kawerau District Council, Whakatane District Council, Opotiki District Council and Taupo District Council.

Flooding, Otago and Canterbury, 2017

  • Relates to the districts of Timaru District Council, Selwyn District Council, Christchurch City Council, Waitaki District Council, Dunedin City Council and Clutha District Council.


Work under authority conditions during COVID-19 lockdown

Our archaeologists and pouarahi are working remotely and the authority process is running as normal at present. Currently we are in 'working days' as defined by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.

If works are considered to be essential business (please see www.covid19.govt.nz) during the Alert Level 4, all personnel required to deliver that project are essential. Therefore if an archaeologist has to be present to allow the works to proceed lawfully, they have to be present. As such they are part of the delivery team, not any different from the persons driving the digger or installing the services. The Project Manager would be responsible for the adherence to COVID-19 health requirements for all workers on site, just in the same way as supermarket owners are responsible for their staff and ensuring safe distances are maintained and hygiene measures are in place.

Emergency Archaeological Authority Provision s61

A National State of Emergency was declared yesterday (26 March 2020). A streamlined authority process has been set up to quickly consider work that affects archaeological sites in areas where a civil defence emergency or a local or national transition period has been notified.

Please note the emergency process will be available ONLY for work needed on archaeological sites to enable essential businesses to continue to be provided or maintained.   Please see www.covid19.govt.nz . Any such application must include a comprehensive justification about why it meets the criteria for it to be made under s61 of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act. If there is doubt, MBIE should be contacted for confirmation, in which case their response must be included with the application.

The protection of all workers on a site where works for an essential business are being undertaken is the responsibility of the Project Manager and the same precautions must be in place as would apply for all workers delivering essential services. It is also the responsibility of the Project Team to engage the necessary archaeological advice and support for the works.

Submitting applications

When sending in authority applications, please copy in your regional archaeologist. Also please ensure that your authority applications are complete when they are submitted, because Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga currently does not have its usual capacity for checking lot numbers, etc.

We will keep you updated if anything changes.