Protecting our heritage

Published on 12 August 2021

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Historic places and resources are things that everyone seems to value.  They are a physical reminder of our history, they reinforce our sense of who we are and they help us to define what is unique about our towns and villages. 

Local authorities have a legal duty under the Resource Management Act to protect heritage from inappropriate development.  To do this effectively, we identify historic heritage areas and establish suitable rules under the District Plan.  In 2016, we launched a community engagement project called Let’s Plan Together as the first step in a review of our District Plan.  One of the things we sought community feedback on was heritage management. Two years later, we invited community feedback on the Draft District Plan framework, which also addressed heritage management.

Earlier this year, we released the Draft District ePlan as part of the Navigating Our Course consultation.  In the Draft District Plan, we proposed changes to heritage precincts and associated rules after commissioning an independent heritage consultant to review the existing precincts and rules.  The consultant found that many of the existing heritage precincts were European focused or concentrated on the built environment and did not recognise the broader context, such as Māori heritage and associations to a place.  They recommended that these be changed to better protect significant heritage values. 

We are preparing to begin another round of community engagement about how to protect heritage values in the District in the lead up to notifying the Proposed District Plan later this year.  People who provided feedback during Navigating Our Course told us that we needed to do more targeted engagement with people affected by the changes.  We will be writing to these property-owners this month. 

Property-owners in the nine heritage areas (Kerikeri, Kohukohu, Mangōnui and Rangitoto Peninsula, Paihia, Pouērua, Rangihoua, Rāwene, Russell and Te Waimate) will receive a letter that outlines the changes we are proposing, along with a brochure that explains the legal obligation the Council has to protect heritage from inappropriate development.  This approach will ensure that all property-owners are aware of the changes and have access to information that is tailored to their situation. 

We will also hold information sessions in communities, notify tangata whenua and stakeholders and publicise the proposals via the media so the wider community is aware of the opportunity to provide feedback.  We are asking people if they think the areas and rules we are proposing will protect the Far North’s historic heritage?  Are there other methods for achieving the same outcome? 

We must protect heritage, but we’re not locked in to doing it in a particular way if the community believes there are better means of achieving the outcomes.  I encourage people to have their say on this issue before we invite submissions on our Proposed District Plan in December.