Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage)
: I move,
That the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Local Government and Environment Committee to consider this bill.
It is great to stand here tonight to continue the proud National tradition of providing strong support for arts, culture, and heritage, because National’s arts pedigree is excellent. Sid Holland’s Government formed the Historic Places Trust, which is the subject of the bill we debate tonight. Keith Holyoake’s Government established the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. Rob Muldoon appointed the first Minister for the Arts in 1975, Allan Highet, regarded by many as the best Minister for the Arts in our country’s history. He established the Film Commission in 1978 and, in Jim Bolger’s time, Doug Graham got Te Papa built and reformed the arts council. So tonight is nothing new; it is but another chapter in National’s ongoing excellent support of culture and heritage in this country. We are not known as the “Party of Arts” for nothing.
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust has had a very distinguished track record in the protection of our historic heritage ever since it was established by the National Government in 1954. Just as National created the trust, and over the years has strengthened it, this bill now seeks to ready it for the 21st century. Specifically, the bill
enhances the effectiveness of the Historic Places Trust through structural change and greater efficiency. In so doing, it will repeal and replace the Historic Places Act 1993.
The National Party signalled a review of the Historic Places Act in our 2008 election manifesto. We recognised that it was time to take a good look at whether the existing structure was the best one to ensure a smart and effective organisation.
The subsequent review confirmed that change was needed. A key finding was a lack of clarity around the organisation’s statutory and membership roles. This meant branch committees risked being constrained by the priority-setting, the rules, and the conventions of a Crown entity. It also meant elected board members were constrained in their ability to represent the interests of those who elected them. What this bill seeks to do is to separate these roles by consolidating the statutory function of the Historic Places Trust and ensuring strong and independent heritage advocacy. So the bill disestablishes the branch committees, removes the three positions for elected members on the trust board, and creates two new positions for members who are to be appointed by Ministers.
Only a very small proportion of the trust’s members are actually on branch committees. Under the proposed changes, former branch committee members will still be able to support the work of the trust and will continue to receive the benefits that membership offers. They will not, however, be involved in the Historic Places Trust’s governance or statutory work.
Let me be very clear: nothing in this legislation undermines or lessens local heritage advocacy. Political and statutory action has long been underpinned by support from heritage advocates in the community. Groups do not need to be large or expensive to achieve significant heritage wins. What they need to be is free to speak up for their local heritage and to challenge authorities where they see fit.
Alongside changing the structure of the trust, the bill seeks to change its name. The new name proposed is Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. The key aspect of the change is the removal of the word “trust”, a term that is inconsistent with the organisation’s regulatory responsibilities and its status as a Crown entity. The change will also clearly distinguish the newly named Heritage New Zealand from any independent trusts that may be formed by former branch committee members in the future.
The most significant reforms proposed by the bill are to the protection of New Zealand’s archaeological heritage. Under the existing Act, no person may destroy, damage, or modify an archaeological site without prior consent from the trust. Current archaeological consent processes are far too complex and are poorly aligned with the Resource Management Act. They also lack opportunities for Māori input. They require significant reworking to bring them up to date.
The bill reforms archaeological consents, ensuring they will be faster, simpler, and more efficient for applicants. It aligns the time frames with those in the Resource Management Act, reducing maximum time frames for the future Heritage New Zealand to process applications for modification of archaeological sites. It provides a simplified application process for proposals that have only a minor effect on archaeology, and it requires Heritage New Zealand to consult on and publish its policy for administering archaeological consents. Importantly, these changes also recognise the significance to Māori of many archaeological sites.
In the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes the bill also proposes a separate emergency archaeological consent system that can be invoked in the event of a natural disaster, including a special emergency consent. This will give Heritage New Zealand the discretion to reduce the documentation required for applications, and will shorten time frames both for decision making and for appeals. It will ensure that we can
continue to record and investigate our heritage, but without putting lives at risk or impeding reconstruction.
Another aim of the bill is to reduce costs and difficulties for property owners. Under the current legislation, if the trust carries out an investigation of the archaeological value of a site but there turns out not to be any value, the costs of investigation are still recoverable from the owner. The bill removes the power to recover costs in such cases so that private citizens are no longer disadvantaged by this practice.
The bill also removes ambiguity in the circumstances where the trust may have regard to Government policy. Under the current legislation the responsible Minister is prohibited from giving a direction to the trust on heritage matters. The bill clarifies this provision in an approach that is consistent with the Crown Entities Act. The bill permits the Minister to provide policy direction, to which the organisation must have regard, but the Minister cannot direct the organisation on heritage matters that relate to particular historic places, historic areas, wāhi tapu, or wāhi tapu areas. Given the Government funding of what will be Heritage New Zealand and the regulatory powers it exercises, some level of ministerial leadership is appropriate to ensure the organisation is more accountable to taxpayers in its policy direction.
When I introduced this bill in October last year, I announced a separate review of the registration provisions in Part 4 of the bill. Any changes to these provisions will need to be consistent with the legislative amendments being developed in separate reviews of earthquake-prone buildings policy and the Resource Management Act, so I intend to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper regarding the registration provisions when these other pieces of work are further advanced. I believe it would be appropriate for the select committee to seek public submissions both on the bill and on the Supplementary Order Paper at that time.
The changes proposed by this bill will improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of the protection of historic places while maintaining the strong national leadership for which the Historic Places Trust is rightly recognised. I commend this bill to the House.
CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour)
: The Government held a review of archaeological consenting processes within the Historic Places Act in response to some anecdotal evidence that those processes might not have been as streamlined as they could. The focus of the review was solely on ensuring that statutory processes were efficient and streamlined, and in particular to reduce any potential for duplication with processes under the Resource Management Act. It is instructive to compare the results of that review with the regulatory impact statement on this bill. The statement notes there were three different types of relevant provisions under the current legislation: there was not really an alignment of processing times between archaeological authorities in resource consent; there was excessive processing time, in some cases up to 6 months; and the Māori Heritage Council of the trust did not have input into all applications for archaeological authorities, affecting sites of interest to Māori. Although it is interesting to note that the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in the regulatory impact statement notes that that overall problem is likely to be small, with only 350 applications a year, so the rationale for the review was based not on direct evidence of a problem, but on perceptions of a problem.
To the extent that the review was one of the prompters for a redraft of the Act, it is helpful, I think, to look at the provisions of the bill and to consider the main changes it would make. We have heard a summary of some of them from the Minister. Obviously, there is going to be a change of the name of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga—Heritage New Zealand—and a reform of the organisation’s governance and structure. Currently the trust has a board, it has the Māori Heritage Council, and it has branch committees, which comprise fee-paying members.
As the Minister observed, the bill will disestablish the branch committees, it will remove the three positions for elected board members that currently exist on the board, and it will create two new positions for the board members, which will be appointed by the Minister himself.
On processes, the bill proposes to reduce the maximum time frames for Heritage New Zealand to process applications and will align those time frames with the now well-known procedures that exist under the Resource Management Act. It introduces a simplified application process for proposals that have only a minor effect on archaeology.
As far as emergency authorities are concerned, Heritage New Zealand will have the ability to process archaeological authorities’ applications more speedily following a state of emergency, basically by shortening time frames and including weekends and public holidays in the calculation of time frames.
Labour supports the sending of the bill to a select committee—the Local Government and Environment Committee, I believe, was the committee the Minister nominated—and it is appropriate that the bill should receive scrutiny at that committee. One of the issues the Opposition will want careful scrutiny paid to is the dispensing with branch committees. We are concerned whenever public input into an entity is diminished, and it does seem to us that getting rid of the branch committees does need some thought—does need some examination—at the select committee. The Minister, I am sure, would not want to see public input, and input from members, jeopardised. We need to see, I think, clear evidence that that is not going to occur as a result of removing branch committees from the structure.
Likewise, the risk with the removal of the three members of the existing board who represent the branch committees is, obviously, again a diminution of public input into the affairs of what is now known as the Historic Places Trust. We would want to see and hear assurances from advisers and others at the committee, and to test the evidence on that point, that that is not going to lead to the current membership of the trust feeling that they are disempowered and that their opportunities for input into the organisation, which at the moment are an important aspect of the affairs of the trust, are not diminished or discouraged.
It will, I think, be important in the select committee process to exercise vigilance to ensure that the bill, in fact, strengthens governance and input opportunities and does not come at the expense of archaeological heritage and public participation in safeguarding that heritage. That is, I think, the prime concern that the Opposition would express at the way in which the bill is drafted and is probably the primary issue that we will want to test at the select committee.
I think it is also appropriate to make the point that although Labour supports measures to reduce unnecessary costs and delays, as I said earlier in respect of the regulatory impact statement on the bill, the ministry has noted that one of the major overall problems that the bill would seek to address is small and likely to remain so. The evidence is that there were, I think, only 350 applications a year that would be affected by one of the major reforms in the bill. So there is a legitimate question, in the face of stagnant economic growth, record migration to Australia, persistently high unemployment, and increasing numbers of children suffering from poverty-related illnesses, as to whether this is really a priority issue for the Government at this time, but, if it is, then the question has to be asked why it has taken the Minister 2 years after Cabinet asked him to report on the consent process to actually bring changes to Parliament.
We will be keen, as I say, at the select committee to test whether or not this is, in fact, a measure that will lead to better processes, better governance, and better public
input for the entity that will be known as Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Despite the reservations that I have mentioned, and the nasty little partisan speech that we heard before on the introduction of the bill, Labour will support this legislation going to the select committee.
NICKY WAGNER (National—Christchurch Central)
: I rise to support the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. As you heard from the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, this bill will replace the Historic Places Act 1993. It changes the governance structure of the Historic Places Trust, and it introduces new archaeological provisions and new emergency provisions. It will also update the drafting of the bill, and improve the workability of the Act.
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust was established in 1955 as a voluntary organisation, but it is now an autonomous Crown entity with statutory responsibilities, and over the years it has developed into a professional organisation with over 100 fulltime-equivalent staff. Over the years the members of the Historic Places Trust have done wonderful work. Volunteers have worked long and hard to identify, to protect, to restore, and to raise the profile and appreciation of the heritage of our country. However, as the organisation has become more professional and mostly funded by the Crown, there has been some confusion and some tensions between the volunteers, the members of the branch committees, and the staff of the organisations and their statutory responsibilities.
The Crown now provides 80 percent of the Historic Places Trust’s funding, of a total budget of about $15 million. Less than 5 percent of that income comes from membership subscriptions. The new bill will allow for ongoing membership, but it disestablishes the branch committees. Volunteers will be encouraged to support the work of the organisation. For example, they do a lot of work in terms of managing, guiding, and being involved with the 48 historic places that are administered by the trust. But others who want a more active role in advocacy will be encouraged to form new, independent organisations, and Heritage New Zealand is interested in working in partnership with these organisations.
As the MP for Christchurch Central, I am particularly interested in the provisions of the bill that concern emergency authorities. But before I discuss this further, I would like to pay tribute to the Historic Places Trust and the work that it has been doing in Christchurch since the earthquakes. Malcolm Duff and his team have worked tirelessly. We have seen them day after day, under really difficult circumstances, in and out of civil defence headquarters, trying to get the best possible outcomes for heritage and for our special buildings in Christchurch.
The problems were absolutely magnified by the significant number of earthquakes, simply because they had to keep on looking at, analysing, and re-deciding what to do with buildings. In many cases, restoration plans had to be re-thought through, and then re-thought through again, and then finally re-thought through again—and in some cases actually abandoned as the earthquakes continued. In some cases, earthquake strengthening, emergency propping work, and even remedial work did not save valuable buildings.
Although some of our special buildings in Christchurch have survived—for example, the Christ’s College complex, the museum area, and the Arts Centre—and although that has been damaged, it will be restored—many of our well-loved buildings have been extremely badly damaged, and only some will be rebuilt.
We have two cathedrals—we have the neo-Gothic cathedral, which was designed by George Gilbert Scott and Benjamin Mountfort, in our Cathedral Square, and then we also have the Frances William Petre cathedral, which is a French-style neoclassical Catholic basilica in Madras Street—and both these cathedrals are in that category. The
provincial chambers are also a particularly significant building, but the provincial chambers are in public ownership, and I am hopeful that we will be able to rebuild those, although I suspect that it is going to be a very long and probably gruelling task.
Christchurch has been fortunate to have two distinctive cathedrals, and I have always enjoyed the story about George Bernard Shaw, who visited Christchurch in 1934 and complimented his hosts on the beautiful cathedral. Of course, they thought he meant the cathedral in Cathedral Square, but “No”, he replied, “it was that one down by the gasworks.” Of course, that is the Catholic cathedral, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, which is well known as probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Australasia.
But I will come back to emergency powers. The bill establishes a separate emergency authority process that applies in the case of natural disasters. These are the disasters that could cause, or are likely to cause, loss of life, injury, or serious damage to property. The process will give Heritage New Zealand the ability to process archaeological authorities more speedily following a state of emergency. The time frames are shorter, reflecting the emergency context, and are not limited to working days. In other words, weekends and public holidays must be included in the calculation of times.
It will be very pleasing if something good can come out of the Christchurch earthquakes, and if we can use the experience to ensure that this legislation is fit for purpose and can be used in future disaster situations. I think it is timely that we review this present Act, and I think it is important that we get the legislation right. Therefore, I commend this bill to the House.
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. I stand to follow on from what have been relatively non-controversial speeches about the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. In fact, the first time, I must say, that I came across the word “pouhere” was when the Anglican Church decided to reorder its constitution and give equal recognition, as I recall, to the three tikanga. So now when I participate in debates to do with constitutionalism and Māori I will be able to find the right word. I hope, though, that the word ends up sort of reflecting content, but that is for the future. So we support this bill going to the Local Government and Environment Committee.
I want to focus on three things. This bill reflects a transition that authorities have been through in terms of how they treat, how they categorise, and how they prioritise the protection and safeguarding of Māori heritage interests. There is a great debate as to how much information a hapū or an iwi should provide to State authorities. That is often a debate that is driven by the loss of information that is inevitable as a consequence of people leaving rural areas, people moving to the city, the impact of colonisation, and the fact that so much of Māori knowledge was regarded as lowbrow in the earlier decades of the last century. Indeed, in some parts of New Zealand it is probably still the case. So it is amazing that information about Māori place names, sacred sites, and other areas of historical and heritage significance subsists.
And then beyond that there is the genuine concern that Māori cultural information should be tightly guarded, and that before it is shared with the general public it should be passed on to the members of the whānau or the kin group who are most directly affected by the decisions that happen when progress meets heritage, etc., or development meets heritage.
Those are some of the forces, but the fact that the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill retains a Māori committee structure, maintains a Māori Heritage Council, and provides an opportunity for very learned people—as we would say in Māori, ngā pūkenga—to actually provide direction to developers and to other statutory decision-makers is a reminder of the transition we have been through since 1975. I often use that
as a watershed year—the year that the Labour Government of that time decided to enact the Waitangi Tribunal legislation, or whatever it was formally called back then.
But this bill does not just impact on those interests of heritage that are near and dear to me. It also exhorts us to think about other icons of heritage, not the least of which is the built environment. I will not say much about what has happened in Christchurch, because those are exceptional circumstances and MPs who either represent Christchurch or who live in Christchurch no doubt are probably better placed to extend our knowledge about the loss of heritage buildings in that regard. But I am thinking more of Tāmaki-makau-rau—Auckland. As Auckland has expanded and people have looked to modernise Auckland, we have lost a lot of the historic building infrastructure and heritage items in Auckland.
This bill retains extraordinary powers for the new organisation, which will be a Crown entity, as opposed to a somewhat ambiguous trust structure. What it does is it provides for staff, for people authorised by the organisation Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, to actually enter on to property where they fear that sites of significance might be coming into danger or are actually being damaged as a consequence of people not abiding by the conditions of whatever statutory consent they might have. This is likely to annoy property owners, and it may actually annoy the people they are working with, i.e. the developers, but I think it tries to strike a balance between the organisation that the State has posited with these powers and people who have capital at risk. I have some sympathy, quite frankly, for a number of people who do take risks, and who want to expand our infrastructure. It may be central government or local government authorities wanting to improve the delivery of essential services. But, most important, this sends a clear signal that you cannot carry on in an untrammelled fashion if what you are doing is putting at risk archaeological sites or Māori heritage sites.
What it also does is it builds a wee bit of a precautionary approach. If you want to enter into a building you require a District Court judge’s permission, and that should have, I would have thought, a moderating impact in the unlikely event that future employees of this organisation respond to local neighbourhood pressures. For example, we had in the Mission Bay area not all that long ago a building that the super-city had permitted to be demolished, and the local people were concerned that another monstrosity would occupy the skyline or the environment of “Parasite Drive”—Paratai Drive, rather. This bill actually provides a basis for a more measured approach.
But I want to come back to the Māori side, because although this bill does afford a level of recognition and protection, Māori have shown that the real protection lies in being able to use the avenues that take them to either the Environment Court or, more often than not, the High Court. The fact that there is a Treaty of Waitangi reference in here, the fact that there are deliberate black-letter law references to Māori interests, is the ultimate safeguard. It is disappointing that from time to time tangata whenua groups are required to absorb the costs of litigation, but, given the nature of our constitution, unless your interests are clearly elaborated and clearly contained in a statutory provision, it is very difficult for a judge or a court to read into the letters of the law a level of meaning that might satisfy Māori interests.
We have had some fantastic jurisprudence over the years, and I think back to the late 1980s. I think the case was the
Habgood case, and in those days we all relied upon a thing called section 3(1)(g) in the old Town and Country Planning Act, which talked about the special relationship between Māori and their ancestral land. After thousands of dollars had been expended by people trooping backwards and forwards and suffering the withering language of Judge David Sheppard and others, we finally managed to
capture some of the jurisprudence that built a reasonable basis. And then, of course, that was augmented by the decisions of Justice Chilwell and others.
I offer these potentially irrelevant remarks only to remind us how far we have come, and that in this bill there are elements that will inevitably need to be tidied up in the select committee. We should remind ourselves that it is not just the current group of politicians or the current bureaucrats or the current Minister—no deprecation to the current Minister. This has been a long and gradual journey. This will not be the final step that we as a country take in the protection of our heritage.
The fact that it is very explicit, both in the duties and in the justiciability of Māori environmental and heritage interests, is a wake-up call for people up and down the country. Unless we can maintain the physical representation of these Māori interests, all that is going to be left is the names. We do not want Māori heritage interests to all of a sudden start to appear like some taonga brought back from the Netherlands or America, from the Boston whalers, where the provenance of that taonga is now so confused and lost in time that no one can really tell the story of the greenstone mere or the tiki that disappeared from the 1790s to the 1820s. We have an opportunity by protecting and using a number of the provisions in this bill, so that the names are actually married off to the physical representation and are a reminder that the indigenous people had their own way of life. They had their own system of recording their history and passing it on.
For those reasons I am very happy, along with my senior colleague Mr Chauvel, to support this bill to the relevant select committee. Kia ora tātou katoa.
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Tēnā koutou e te Whare. The Green Party is supporting the referral of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill to the Local Government and Environment Committee, because it is generally consistent with Green policy and makes some useful reforms. We do support the name change and some of the key provisions—some, but not all. We are very supportive of the continuation of the Māori Heritage Council with delegated powers, including the powers to excavate, and of the affirmation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities. Few bills are so clear that the Crown must give effect to te Tiriti, which is not surprising, given that this bill deals with wāhi tapu and taonga katoa, which are guaranteed to tangata whenua in article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. However, I do note that Te Puni Kōkiri has expressed some concerns about these clauses, and I would be interested in finding out what those are before we go through to the next reading.
However, in supporting this bill’s referral to the select committee we need to flag some concerns. We would like to hear from the public at the select committee about the disestablishment of branch committees of the former Historic Places Trust. We know they are variable in their effectiveness, but we know some communities have regarded them very highly. They may well be redundant from a national perspective, but we would like to hear from those citizens who are active in heritage issues as to their views of these proposed changes.
As I said before, the new Treaty clauses appear much stronger on te Tiriti issues and responsibilities, and the requirement that local authorities must have particular regard to recommendations made by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga or the Māori Heritage Council is long overdue. Local authorities do have a responsibility to assist in the protection of wāhi tapu and with wāhi tapu areas, and these changes are needed. In my direct experience there have been councils that have no heritage plan and no records of wāhi tapu, and that have taken no responsibility for the protection of these vital heritage areas.
However, we do have one more concern, and this is the greatest concern that we have at this stage of the first reading. It is associated with the clauses related to archaeological sites. I want to address a clause that we would argue must be changed at
the select committee. It is clause 42(1)(b). This clause states that if an effect of an activity on a site will be “no more than minor”, then it appears the developer is exempt from consulting with tangata whenua. There is no definition in this bill as to what is minor. How will this be defined, and by whom? Even if an archaeologist does an initial survey, they are often not in a position to determine whether the development activity on a site will have a minor effect or not, because the status of many sites cannot be determined until their archaeological work has been carried out.
So the 5-day decision-making process and the use of the minor activity clause could be disastrous for some significant sites of vital importance to tangata whenua, who do not even have to be informed, according to clause 42(1)(b), if this is invoked. Clause 43 then clearly lays out the proper process that should be followed for consultation on sites, except if they are exempt under clause 42(1). We have great concerns about that exemption and that word “minor”. If we have understood this correctly, it could be a fast-track nightmare that could destroy heritage and avoid consultation, which could be music to the ears of some developers but not a protection of heritage.
I want to give examples of this. My partner was a professional archaeologist in Te Tai Rāwhiti for a number of years. These issues I am referring to were a daily source of contention, as he sought to work alongside tangata whenua while being employed under contract by developers who wanted him to find as little as possible, and to hurry up about it. One site that could be used as an example of this is one where it could have been judged that the activity would have a minor effect, so I will just paint the picture of what I mean by this. It was a small shell midden, just a small site on a piece of private land that a developer wanted to turn into holiday homes on the Māhia Peninsula. This shell midden looked like nothing very significant. You could have walked past it and just seen a few shells. We see that all the time—you walk past some sand with some shells. But the extraordinary thing about it is that after the process was well under way, with full consultation and full tangata whenua involvement—who actually worked on the dig itself, with my partner—it turned out to be a unique 14th century shellfish-drying hāngi site. It was very rare and very far from minor in its significance. This new bill could have seen that destroyed without either consultation with, or recognition of, the tangata whenua.
Another example, also on the East Coast, was a housing development in the settlement of Okitū, just north of Gisborne, where my partner found some prehistoric gardens and terracing that looked to the untrained eye like nothing much at all. But this was a rare site, because most gardening sites on the East Coast have already been destroyed and have been ploughed in. There was going to be a road put through the middle of these prehistoric gardens. If the archaeologist had been acting under this law and had decided that the proposed effects of a road on what looked like some faint terracing were no more than minor, then that site would be gone. It would have been destroyed. So we are very concerned about that. The “no more than minor” clause needs to go, and the whole issue of who decides what is minor is problematic. We have seen that with the Resource Management Act, with the issue of the word “significance”. Who decides what is significant? We are setting up another real problem for ourselves in the use of that word “minor”.
The payment issue is very significant in relation to these clauses. Who pays the archaeologists must be addressed. This is an opportunity—and I welcome the bill, because it is an opportunity—to make these things work better for the benefit of the heritage of this country. The payment would be better managed by a heritage body that could charge the developers for the work, then remove the inbuilt conflict of interest for archaeologists. At the moment, if an archaeologist from a Pākehā perspective who is not particularly te Tiriti orientated is hired by the contractor who is encouraging them to
find nothing, then nothing can be found, but that does not mean that nothing is actually there. I have witnessed this a number of times in my own experience, working alongside people, and often tangata whenua themselves, who have not known whether or not a site is significant. So this whole issue of payment must be organised better. The heritage body would be a logical place to do it, because it is removing that inbuilt conflict.
The final issue that I want to raise at this stage of the process of the law is the choice of archaeologist. Currently, a developer chooses a contract archaeologist; therefore, they get to decide when working with a Māori site—and I am talking mainly about Māori sites here. The tangata whenua get no right to choose who will work with their heritage. It is not up to them; they do not have any say. This may be an ancient site of particular significance to the hapū, but they have no power to decide how that site will be dealt with; it is up to the contractor. Of course, in my experience of this sector, there are some archaeologists who will fast track your development for you, and there are others who will not. Therefore, the conflict of interest is really problematic. We believe that mana whenua should have the power to choose who is going to do that work, and perhaps the safest way is via the Māori Heritage Council, which the Minister has quite rightly maintained as a key part of making sure this bill is culturally appropriate. I believe this is giving effect to the clause relating to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
We are very keen to see this bill supported, but we must have these changes. We must make sure that it fulfils the functions of protecting Māori heritage, which is actually a highly political and contested issue. If you have not worked in this field, you might think this is an area of minor contention, but it is not minor. This is a battlefield between people trying to protect their history and heritage and their whakapapa and their wahi tapu, versus people who want to fast track development. If you are the archaeologist in the middle of it, it has not been a pretty sight. It has had huge issues that have been fought through the courts. The previous speaker referred to the bad old days when we struggled in front of Judge Sheppard. I personally have experienced that, as well. So what the Greens are asking for is a change on that issue of “minor”. It needs to go from the bill. It needs a recognition of tangata whenua having the choice of archaeologists, because that is what those Treaty clauses mean. Giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi means giving the power to hapū to make some decisions about their heritage.
We want to continue to support the bill, but we will be looking at the select committee to hear from people who have raised these issues with us about these clauses, because it is too important to write a bill and take this opportunity to improve the law, as the Government has done in many aspects, but then allow an inbuilt contradiction between more effective administration of our heritage and more facilitation and fast tracking of development through the use of a word like “minor”. These words are contested in the courts daily, so we really need to do this. I would like to see it supported. We will be supporting this bill, provided these changes can be brought in. Kia ora tātou.
JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki)
: In the first reading of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill, I say that I am looking to this bill to make the Historic Places Trust a more user-friendly organisation and also to be more responsive to the wishes of the wider community. I am going to give a few examples of what I mean by my desire to see that in this bill and what I am seeing in this bill, and I draw the House’s attention in particular to clause 80 of the bill, which covers these matters. The Waitaki electorate is rich with built heritage, whether it is Ōāmaru itself and the built heritage, the Edwardian heritage, which is a notable feature of the town, or whether it is the signs of early Chinese occupation in Central Otago and early settlement there. All around the electorate there are the gold diggings and all sorts of built heritage features. You should
not really start naming them, because you will leave some out. Butthere are a few instances that have come to me as the local member, and one of those I want to talk about as an example of how I want to see the Historic Places Trust change. I think the bill will allow it to give wider consideration of some of the issues that come to it.
One of them is the stamper battery, which is on the Old Man Range out of Alexandra. It is an old gold mining relic, and the stamper battery is this wonderful contraption that literally has batteries that stamp. They crush ore, and gold is extracted. It is driven by a waterwheel. The waterwheel sits outside the Central Stories Museum in Alexandra and is enjoyed by thousands and thousands of people every year. In fact, the Central Stories Museum in Alexandra is a wonderful example of a regional museum telling the story of New Zealand’s history and built heritage.
A group was formed that had the desire to bring the stamper battery, which is the other part of this waterwheel contraption for extracting gold, down from the Old Man Range and to restore it—because of course it was lying in bog—and put it on display for everybody to enjoy. They had quite a long battle with the Department of Conservation, which ultimately, in about 2008, gave its consent for the stamper battery to be brought down from the Old Man Range, but we still had the barrier of the Historic Places Trust. Its objection ran along the lines of no, it has to stay up where it is high altitude, sitting in bog, decaying away, and can be reached only by four-wheel drive and then you have to walk down a very steep slope, so it requires a good deal of mobility. Really, it is under snow for a lot of the year and safely accessible for only about 36 days in the year. It seemed to me that that fixed position is more of a barrier than making our built heritage accessible to more New Zealanders.
There is also the Ōāmaru basilica—a beautiful building, a category I building, but the presbytery associated with it is not. It is a mishmash of many years of alteration on behalf of the Catholic community, and the Catholic community, who own the building, wish to have it reclassified. They have found it extremely difficult to have that done. I am hoping that consideration will be given to that, and I see clause 80 and I think that that might provide a way forward for that community for the future of their building.
Also, I have had a number of people come to me. There was the private homeowner in Palmerston with a beautiful old manse. It had a heritage classification and they were most upset at the prospect of Historic Places Trust people coming into their home and classifying it. It was a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. There are ways of doing these things working with the community and I hope that the changes signalled in this Historic Places Trust bill will enable that to happen. I certainly know that that is the will of the Minister who is promoting this bill, so I hope it is going to happen.
This bill will provide for a new process for archaeological consenting, which will be faster, simpler, and more efficient. It will reduce costs and also difficulties for property owners. We must never forget that a number of our built heritage properties are in private ownership. We have got to think about their interests, too. I commend the bill to the House.
BRENDAN HORAN (NZ First)
: I am proud to rise on behalf of New Zealand First to speak to the first reading of this Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. New Zealand First supports it going to through select committee process, but in my first reading speech I intend to cover some of the broad themes that ripple through this bill. I believe that it is essential to the harmony of our country that we ensure that both Māori and European heritage are brought into the modern world.
To know where we are going, we have to know where we have been. This is a phrase that is often heard, but how many of us actually listen and absorb? Indeed, this current Government would do well to take heed, and, if it did, then perhaps we would not see its reborn, rehashed, back-to-the-future, asset-selling, failed economic policies of the
1980s. Indeed, perhaps there is a way that we could reclaim the Taranaki oilfields through heritage status. We need to strike a balance, where the importance of heritage meets the appetite of progress, and by progress I mean the development of infrastructure and the provision of recreational and essential services.
As parliamentarians we need to realise that heritage includes sites, icons, and buildings, and other features that have taken root and have defined us as New Zealanders since the onset of colonisation. I give as examples sites such as Arrowtown and the Wesleyan mission house in the beautiful Hokianga. One of the pitfalls of modern society—and, some would say, a by-product of the austerity regime that this Government has orchestrated—is that as a whole we fail to truly celebrate our shared heritage. To justify that statement, I say that it is very difficult to celebrate when you have to work 70 hours a week to make ends meet in a forced, low-wage economy.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member’s comments are fascinating, but I notice that he is reading this speech. It would be great to see him raise his skill levels by ripping the notes up and speaking from the heart—or just using his notes.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: When a member makes a point of order, it should not include some imputations, and I think the member has crossed a line in actually doing that. But, in saying that, the Standing Orders Committee did make it quite clear that members were not to speak from full text.
Metiria Turei: Point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Look, we have had a point of order and I have ruled on it. Is this a separate point of order—
Metiria Turei: Yes.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: —because I have already ruled on that point of order.
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Standing Orders do not—and the Standing Orders Committee did not—say that members must not speak from their notes. What it said was—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have already—[Interruption] Please sit; I am standing. I have already ruled on this. I have just said that the member must not speak from full text.
Metiria Turei: Point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am on my feet. The member can speak, he can use full notes, but he is not to read full notes.
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you for that clarification on your ruling. I also would seek your clarification that under Standing Orders it is not the role of members of the House to complain to you about whether or not members are considered to be reading from their notes, but it is in fact your role as Speaker to identify that, where you see there is a problem.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Similarly, I could say it is not your role to tell the Speaker what they should do.
Metiria Turei: Speaking to the point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, I have ruled on it. Please sit down.
Metiria Turei: Point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is this a separate point of order?
Metiria Turei: It is a separate point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: I will hear it.
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you just clarify the ruling, then, as to when a member is to be identified, and by whom, when they are not supposed to be speaking from their notes. What are the provisions as to who is allowed to identify that and make a ruling?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any member can raise a point of order in the House. It is up to the discretion of the Speaker how they actually interpret that, and the member who jumped to her feet immediately would see that I did not deal harshly with the member at all.
BRENDAN HORAN: Thank you. I am just referring to my notes casually. I would like to thank that member over there. You know, we all on this side of the House hope that one day that member will use his head for something other than his mouth, but that day is not here yet.
As I was saying, to know where we are going, we have to know where we have been. Perhaps an example of this is our two main traditions of a heritage nature meeting each other, as personified in the famous—[Interruption] I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker, I cannot hear myself. As I was saying, this is personified in the famous Ōtaki Ngāti Raukawa Anglican Church known as Rangiātea. Tragically this building, this taonga, was razed by an arsonist. I am happy to report, however, that this sacred sacrilege was forcefully met by a secular response. It has since been rebuilt and there was a blend of missionary interest and Māori tradition.
I wonder how many New Zealanders know that Hoturoa, the captain of the
Tainui canoe, brought the institution, the kaupapa, of Rangiātea to New Zealand in the form of soil from Hawaiki and deposited it at the base of the altar of the church. New Zealand First’s view is that sites such as these are taonga, they are sacred, they should be cherished, they should be preserved, but, most of all, they should be celebrated.
I would now draw your attention to clause 13, which gives authority to Heritage New Zealand to enter on to land for the purposes of protecting heritage. This is an awesome power and I would hate to see it ever used indiscriminately.
Moving on, I have had the pleasure of visiting the Bay of Islands, a site of great heritage importance. We all know that this Government is enamoured with Skycity, and it may daily boast of its pokies, but a greater den of vice existed in Russell, otherwise known as Kororāreka—the sweet penguin. I share the story only to remind us that European heritage deserves the same protection as that afforded to Māori. How many New Zealanders know or celebrate the colourful history of Russell?
I remind us how aggrieved Māori were about Russell in the 1840s. It was ransacked and burnt. Now we have such incendiary thoughts rekindled by the current mess presided over by the current Government involving Skycity, and I lament that perhaps one day Skycity will be viewed as a heritage site. But that day is not today.
Hon Tau Henare: It already is.
BRENDAN HORAN: There is obviously an interesting debate to come as to what constitutes or comprises a heritage site and what comprises taonga. I would like to reiterate that the first casino in Auckland and its pokies are definitely not taonga. New Zealand First supports this bill going to the select committee.
NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central)
: I am very pleased to speak on the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. I think it is really important. Many of us will have had situations in our electorates where community groups have come to us seeking to protect some of the heritage sites within our particular areas. I personally have had a number of situations in Auckland. We have, unfortunately, lost many buildings in Auckland Central, and also right across Auckland, partly because we have not done the work and the research to actually understand where our heritage is but also because, I think, we do not have the right legislative framework that would encourage direct conversations between the community and developers. If we can achieve a couple of things out of this bill, I hope that one of those things is that we are able to achieve much more direct conversations between communities and developers.
I think, when we reflect on how we have come here, that we must reflect on the fact that there were a couple of key issues as to why this bill has come to the House. The first issue is that we know that the archaeological authority provisions of the Historic Places Act have been unnecessarily complex. We know that there has been no alignment of processing times for archaeological authorities and resource consents, and we also know that there has been unnecessary duplication. I just want to focus on a couple of key areas in the bill, because I think they are very important. The first one concerns those archaeological provisions. We have had two phases of reform of the resource management legislation, and what this bill aims to do is to align the archaeological provisions with the resource management legislation. The second area concerns emergency provisions within this bill. This is very important, obviously, in the wake of everything that has happened in Canterbury. I have just come this evening from the Speaker’s Science Forum held in this Parliament and attended by a number of members of Parliament, where we have been reflecting on, potentially, new investments and technologies that will ensure that our heritage is protected in the future. I think it is very important that we are here today to be guiding this legislation through the House with the support of many parties, and to really be looking at those clauses that will enable, in the event of emergencies, much quicker responses from authorities. So I think that is a really important aspect of this bill.
The other important aspect of this bill is actually around transparency. There is a very key provision within the bill that requires the new organisation, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, to consult and publish its policy. If I can give one plea from all of my experience in terms of local heritage issues in Auckland, I do believe that there is a lot that can be done in the protection of our heritage, in terms of greater transparency and notice of people within the community.
That brings me to what I think is really at the heart of a number of heritage battles and at the heart of this legislation, and is something that all members across the House will be interested in. That is the role of individuals, and sometimes smaller organisations, who advocate for local heritage situations. I recently had a situation in Auckland Central around the Birdcage and the Campbell Free Kindergarten. We were able to do a lot and to save the historic Birdcage as a result of really direct conversations between the community and the developer.
I think this bill is very good in that not only does it align key provisions around archaeological consenting in terms of the Resource Management Act but it makes it much more efficient in terms of simplifying and streamlining those provisions. But there are also some very core transparency provisions, and I think it also retains that core role that we all know within our electorates around local heritage advocacy. There are so many organisations and individuals right across New Zealand who are involved in the protection of our heritage.
I am very pleased to be supporting this bill to the House. I think that as long as we are members of Parliament there will always be tough decisions to be made in terms of the balance between developers, the protection of private property rights, and protecting our heritage. But I am confident that this bill will go that bit further to reduce complexity and to reduce the amount of time that is spent on consents, while ensuring that we have direct conversations between the community and the developers. So I am very pleased to be supporting this bill.
RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga)
: Kia ora, Mr Speaker. I am pleased to be standing and speaking on the first reading of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. Labour and I support this bill going to the Local Government and Environment Committee. This bill really marks quite a big change, I guess, in terms of bringing the New Zealand Historic Places Trust into being a focused regulatory,
statutory function - type body, as opposed to a broad, membership-supported, volunteer-based heritage protection organisation, which it was originally established as back in the 1950s.
The Historic Places Trust is the leading national historic heritage agency, and under this bill it is moving from those volunteer roots through to a completely autonomous Crown entity, with its own Act and a new name, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. So a completely new organisation is constituted under this bill—its own legislation—and the major changes really are to focus on the regulatory side of what it does. That is around the regulation of destruction, investigation of archaeological sites, identification and maintenance of a register of historical and cultural heritage, and managing its portfolio of some 48 properties.
Heritage New Zealand, as it stands, will see a real, significant change with its new organisation and a change at the governance level. Currently, the Historic Places Trust has a nine-member board: six are appointed by the Minister and three are elected by the members. This is the major significant change: the disestablishment of the 24 branch committees, which were representing some 20,000-plus members of the Historic Places Trust. Those committees are no more under this legislation.
The new Heritage New Zealand will be a member-based organisation. However, it is difficult to see what scope will be given to its non-regulatory - type roles, given that the branch committees will no longer exist and therefore there will be no real say from the members of the organisation on the governance and the activities of the new organisation.
The new governance arrangements will mean that there will be an eight-member board, all of whom will be appointed by the Minister, and sort of operating alongside that board will be an eight-member Māori Heritage Council. I am pleased to see that the bill has retained the full composition and membership of the Māori Heritage Council, four members of which will be from the board and another four appointed from Māoridom at large, from appropriately qualified and skilled people in the heritage area. The eight-member board alongside the eight-member Māori Heritage Council signifies a good, in terms of numbers, alignment in terms of the Treaty principles, which have been embodied in the Treaty clause within the bill.
Just looking at the Māori Heritage Council, there are some very esteemed members from within Māoridom who make up that council. We have Sir Tumu te Heuheu, the chair and paramount chief of Tūwharetoa; Naida Glavish, a well-known kuia from up in Ngāti Whātua; Apirana Mahuika, paramount chief of Ngati Porou; Manos Nathan from up north; and whanaunga Gerard O’Regan from the south. It is good to see some representation from down in the south; Gerard has done a lot of work in terms of the rock art down south way. We also have Jamie Tuuta, the rep from Taranaki. He is a Māori Trustee and wears quite a lot of hats these days; he is also on the Māori Heritage Council. There is also Che Wilson, from up the Whanganui River. Those current members of the Māori Heritage Council are a very esteemed group and they have a very important role to play, and it is encouraging to see that the bill not only retains that full Māori Heritage Council but makes sure that its role has been expanded. It will now be consulted on all applications regarding the modification of archaeological sites or for archaeological authority.
Returning back to the governance arrangements, the whole emphasis regarding the changes that have been made in this legislation has revolved around the conflicts that arose between the trust trying to exercise its statutory responsibilities and regulatory functions and staff being able to take positions on heritage issues, versus contrary views by particular regions or branch committees that were promoting heritage in their own
regions. That led to situations where it was not very clear who spoke for the trust, and also what the position of the trust was.
The emphasis has now moved to purely a regulatory statutory function, and in light of that I guess the hope is that those branch committees and organisations will now, being disbanded, become independent heritage advocates in their own right, or also join up with existing heritage organisations in their particular locality. There are quite a lot of those, as I mentioned. There were 24 branch committees. I understand not all were functioning. There were about 20 functioning committees, which still represents a large cross-section of individuals interested in heritage protection. Some 10 of those committees are situated within the vast electorate of Te Tai Tonga, from Wellington all the way down to the far south. Those branch committees will be no more, but that is the intention of this bill, and it will be in the hope that there will be more expeditious processing and decision-making achieved by the new Heritage New Zealand.
I want to conclude by just touching on the archaeological consenting provisions. I concur with the remarks by Ms Delahunty that it is, on the face of it, encouraging to see that the Māori Heritage Council will be consulted on all applications. However, there is the exception that it will not be consulted if the development is of a minor nature. So I look forward to hearing back in terms of what submissions are made to the select committee in terms of how, in the push for expeditious processing of applications and granting of authorities, we do not disregard the importance that wāhi tapu archaeological sites have to the tangata whenua. I would hope that the Māori Heritage Council will be extremely busy in terms of making sure that with the 350-odd applications that on average are being made for the archaeological authorities each year, it will be fully involved on behalf of the tangata whenua to make sure that Māori heritage is protected under this new set-up in this bill.
MAGGIE BARRY (National—North Shore)
: It is with great pleasure I rise to talk to the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill in its first reading. The Hon Chris Finlayson is the sponsor of this bill. He introduced it last October, and when he rose to speak a bit earlier he reminded us of National’s proud tradition of supporting culture and the arts, and that Sid Holland was the man who established the Historic Places Trust back in 1954. So it is entirely appropriate that this National Government continues the leadership that it has undertaken in arts and culture and heritage. As with many bills this Government introduces, it reduces ambiguity and clarifies provisions.
This is a bill whose time has come. The Historic Places Trust needs a new name to reflect its modernity in the 21st century. The word “trust”, for example, is not appropriate. I think that the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill properly encapsulates the intentions of all of us as we seek to look after our heritage. Nikki Kaye has talked of some of the examples in Auckland. We have heard the Greens talk about examples. They have done a bit of archaeological digging themselves around this bill to find some fault with it, and I think that within the Local Government and Environment Committee, which I sit on, it is entirely appropriate that we look at the definition of “minor” and that we look at the archaeologists, who pays them, and the provisions. It is a good thing for this to be nutted out in the select committee. So I commend, for me anyway, the relatively rare sign of inter-party support around a bill that really does seek to do what needs to be done.
Nothing about this bill lessens people’s ability to complain and protest about heritage problems; it only enhances it. The structure is important. There need to be changes around the regulatory and community advocacy roles. This needs to be done to improve and increase the efficiency. One of the many legacies of the Canterbury earthquake has been to show us that there need to be emergency provisions to protect life as well as heritage. It is about getting that balance right. I think this bill addresses these things
with a degree of intellectual rigour, which is essential to something as precious as our historic legacies.
The Treaty of Waitangi clause, which again is a clarification of an interpretation, is also overdue. The new clause includes specific provisions of the Act that must require a level of consultation that will ensure that iwi have a part in what goes on. There is strengthening around the provisions for Māori consultation—the requirements, rather than the laissez-faire-faire “let’s consult them, but when it’s too little, too late”. That sort of stuff will go by the by. It is really quite the opposite of some of the concerns that have been raised, but it is right to raise them at the first reading. I am sure, as I said earlier, they will be addressed.
But this is not a bill that is going to silence heritage advocates—quite the opposite; it is going to encourage them. It provides a framework that is easier to understand, that simplifies laws that need to be tightened up. I think that it will, in fact, make our heritage and its protection more viable than it is currently, and that has to be a good thing. I think the Māori Heritage Council has done a great job. I agree with the Labour member who spoke before about the science-heritage advocacy role, and about the way that, in fact, the eight-member Māori Heritage Council will be consulted. It think it is appropriate that that be done, and that it is now a requirement. I think sometimes you can leave people to sort out their own measures, but at other times there needs to be provision for ensuring that that is done. Without taking too much time on this matter at its first reading, I am entirely in support of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill, and I look forward to it coming before the Local Government and Environment Committee. Thank you.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: This is a split call.
DARIEN FENTON (Labour)
: I rise to take a short call on the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. As my colleagues have ably expressed, Labour supports this bill’s referral to the Local Government and Environment Committee, and I think my colleagues have done a very good job of outlining our issues, our concerns, and also why we are supporting this bill so far. There are just a couple of comments I would like to make, if I may.
Labour does support good governance, and any effort to strengthen agency governance is supported. However, we are not convinced that removing three elected board positions and replacing them with two board positions appointed by the Minister necessarily strengthens governance or improves the responsiveness of the body to the public. So through the select committee process Labour will ensure that this bill does, in fact, strengthen governance and the performance and operation of current processes, and does not come at the expense of our archaeological heritage and the public participation in that process. Of course, although Labour supports any measures to reduce unnecessary costs and delays, we also note that the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has said that the overall problem is small and likely to remain so, with just around 350 applications a year.
Finally, can I just comment that if this issue is such a priority for the Government, we do wonder why the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage has taken 2 years after Cabinet asked him to report on the consent process to actually bring changes to Parliament. With those few comments, I am pleased to affirm that Labour supports this bill’s referral to the select committee.
HOLLY WALKER (Green)
: I am pleased to take a call on the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. As we have heard from my colleague Catherine Delahunty, the Green Party will be supporting this bill’s referral to the Local Government and Environment Committee, but we do retain some concerns about certain provisions within it that we would like to see addressed at the select committee
stage. We agree that the Historic Places Act is in need of updating. That Act was originally drafted in 1975 and amended in 1993. As an example of why it does need updating, under the existing Act the technical date by which a place is considered to be historic is whether it is a place that pre-dates 1900. At present there is a lengthy and difficult process to get a site of historical value post-1900 listed as a historic place. Clearly, this needs updating, so that places like World War I training camps and Napier, with its art deco heritage, can be more readily considered and recognised as historic places. So there is a very clear need to consolidate, update, and streamline some of the provisions of the Historic Places Act 1993.
Arguably, the most high-profile change in this bill is to change the name and reform the structure of the Historic Places Trust (Pouhere Taonga). The trust will become Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, and its structure will be reformed. As we have heard from previous speakers, the trust currently has a board, the Māori Heritage Council, and branch committees consisting of fee-paying local members.
The Green Party acknowledges the tensions referred to in the bill’s explanatory note, created by the combination of statutory responsibilities on the one hand with active branch committees and elected board members on the other, and we can see how this structure could make it challenging for the trust to efficiently carry out its statutory responsibilities. However, we do see a risk with the proposed changes—particularly, disestablishing the local branch committee structure, and removing elected board members—that some of the energy, commitment, and local expertise of those local branch committees will be lost. It would be a great shame if that were to take place. Local Historic Places Trust branch members have invaluable local knowledge and give freely of their volunteer hours for the cause of furthering our national heritage, and in many ways these changes could be seen as disenfranchising or disempowering those local volunteers.
I am keen to hear more at the select committee about how branches feel about this change. I am also keen to hear more from the Government about how the hard work and dedication of local branch members will be appreciated and retained under the new regime, especially if the fees of branch members will still continue to be collected and retained by the organisation without the consequent representation that the current structure provides. We have a number of concerns about that.
In the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes, heritage is an issue of particular concern at the front of their minds for many New Zealanders, and many people with an interest in Christchurch’s heritage will be watching this bill closely. We are therefore pleased to see that the bill establishes a separate emergency authority process in the event of natural disasters, to give Heritage New Zealand the ability to process archaeological authorities more speedily following a state of emergency. It will be important, however, for Heritage New Zealand, in the aftermath of a future disaster, to follow a comprehensive process that takes heritage protection into account, even though it will be in a shortened time frame. We think it is important that that is preserved.
Regarding the bill’s changes to the granting of archaeological authorities, which has dominated much of the debate on the bill in this first reading, the House has already heard from my colleague Catherine Delahunty about our concerns about clause 42(1)(b) of the bill allowing applications for activities that may harm an archaeological site if the effects of that activity are “no more than minor”. As we have heard, there is no definition of what a minor effect is in the bill, and we think this is particularly problematic when clause 43 exempts developers from consulting with Māori if the effects are thought to be no more than minor. Without a robust and appropriate definition of what “no more than minor” means in the context of this bill, we are concerned that this could lead to the inappropriate destruction of significant sites
without reference to, or consultation with, mana whenua. So I am pleased to hear from the previous speaker some enthusiasm to address that at the select committee.
That is just one of the concerns we have raised. We will be supporting this bill going to the select committee. We do look forward to teasing out these issues in more detail there. Kia ora koutou.
PAUL GOLDSMITH (National)
: It is very pleasing to be speaking on a bill that enjoys such widespread support across the House as this one, the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill. Based in Epsom as I am, we are surrounded by a great deal of the country’s greatest heritage in terms of building sites—my next-door neighbour’s house was bought in the 1840s. Of course, the community is still, I suppose, grieving the loss of one of the great houses of Remuera, Coolangatta, which was demolished several years ago, and, unfortunately, there is still an empty site there today.
There are real dilemmas when you are dealing with such heritage, such as who pays for retaining these things when the owner would potentially lose a lot of value. As a society we want to retain this heritage, but we have to grapple with how to go about doing that in the most efficient manner. The thing that appeals to me about this bill is that it develops, I think, a more robust process and a more efficient one, and it more effectively resolves that tension between separating local volunteer branches, which are focused, quite rightly, on advocacy, from the statutory, decision-making board, which is the basis of this heritage bill. I will not go any further than that, in the interests of getting this completed tonight. Thank you.
referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee.