Heritage houses and areas

Demolition or renovation of very old properties, or in areas where heritage protection rules apply, may involve special restrictions.

Local authorities are required to contribute to heritage protection under legislation including:

  • the Resource Management Act
  • the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act
  • the Building Act
  • the Local Government Act.

Management strategies for heritage protection are included in strategic directions, policy statements and district plans. Partnerships are sometimes formed between different groups for the preservation of specific sites.

Under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act, demolition of a building that was built before 1900 requires an authority from Heritage New Zealand.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga has developed a toolkit called Saving the Town which provides guidance around rehabilitating and repurposing historic buildings to enable them to enjoy a commercially viable second life.


Local requirements

Local and regional councils usually have sections on their websites outlining their own rules to preserve local character and protect heritage buildings. Specific local requirements may include:

  • preservation of historically significant landscape features or archaeological sites
  • building height and position restrictions (especially on ridge lines or prominent sites)
  • preservation of existing natural features (such as significant trees)
  • demolition and new build restrictions (for example, a new building will be subject to current district plan requirements, particularly for setbacks, while a renovated building may be restored using the existing setbacks)
  • material use
  • specific locality requirements in a district plan.

In addition to specific legal requirements, many local authorities have recommendations that are not compulsory. Using exterior paint colours from a heritage colour palette is a good example. Most paint manufacturers can provide more details.

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Wahi tapu/sacred sites

New Zealand has been settled for over 800 years, and there are many heritage places that have local or special significance to Māori. Heritage places include physical or tangible places such as archaeological sites, and natural and intangible places that are associated with traditional activities or significant events but may have no evidence of human activity.

Heritage places may not be identified on a LIM report, even though they may be known to local people.

If a site is suspected to be a heritage place or have archaeological interest, contact:

  • Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
  • local iwi
  • the local council.