This page provides information on heritage orders and how they are included in district plans.

What is a heritage order?

A heritage order is a provision in a district plan to protect the heritage qualities of a particular place or structure.

A place is defined in the RMA as including any feature or area, and the whole or part of any structure (s188(2)).

Any place of special interest, character, intrinsic or amenity value or visual appeal may qualify. This may be of special cultural, architectural, historical, scientific, ecological, or other interest. It includes places of special significance to the tangata whenua for spiritual, cultural or historical reasons. A heritage order may also include part of the land surrounding a proposed protected place where it is necessary to ensure the protection or enjoyment of the values being protected. The definition of historic heritage and its elevation to being a matter of national importance was introduced through the Resource Management Amendment Act (RMAA) 2003.

A heritage order is similar in effect and has a similar process to a designation because it is a provision in a district plan that affects how a place can be used.

How is a heritage order initiated?

Heritage protection authorities (HPAs) can give notice to their local council of a requirement for a heritage order to protect the special heritage qualities of a place or structure. If a heritage order is included in a district plan, the prior written consent of the HPA is required before certain acts can be undertaken, if they would wholly or partially nullify the effect of the heritage order.

Heritage protection authorities are Ministers of the Crown, councils, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, and bodies corporate that have been approved by the Minister for the Environment under section 188 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

How is a provision for a heritage order included in a district plan?

A heritage order can be included in a district plan in two ways – either as a new heritage order, or as a heritage order that is continued or 'rolled over' from a previous district plan.

The Resource Management Amendment Act (RMAA) 2009 increased new options for the processing of notices of requirement for heritage orders. Notice of requirements for heritage orders can now be directly referred to the Environment Court provided that the council agrees. RMAA 2009 also clarified that a notice of requirement for a new heritage order or to alter an existing heritage order can be called in as a matter of national significance by the Minister for the Environment.

For more information on the processing of heritage orders that are directly referred to the Environment Court or called-in by the Minister for the Environment refer to:

Changes introduced in the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 removed the ability for bodies corporate that have been approved as HPAs under section 188 to give notice of requirement over private land.

For more information about this change refer to:

Resource Legislation Amendments 2016: Fact sheet 7: Changes to heritage protection under the RMA.

Transfer of heritage orders

The Minister for the Environment can transfer existing heritage orders to another HPA (other than a body corporate approved under section 188 of the RMA).

The persons or organisations served with a notice can make a written objection or submission to the Minister on the Minister’s proposal within 20 working days. The Minister must take into account all objections and submissions received within the specified time before making a final decision.

The decision is published in the Gazette and the territorial authority in which the place or area subject to the order must amend the district plan to reflect the transfer as soon as they can without using the Schedule 1 process.

The HPA that had previous responsibility can continue to advocate for the protection of a heritage place as a ‘guardian’. A guardian can act in a voluntary capacity, and does not have any statutory functions or duties under the RMA.

Process for heritage orders which are not part of a proposal of national significance or directly referred to the Environment Court

  1. A heritage protection authority may notify the territorial authority that it intends to protect land by issuing a 'notice of requirement' to the territorial authority. This notice of requirement must be in the prescribed form as set out in the Resource Management (Forms, Fees and Procedure) Regulations 2003.
    1. Form 26: Notice of requirement by heritage protection authority for heritage order or alteration of heritage order [New Zealand Legislation website]
  2. The territorial authority may request further information on the notice of requirement.
  3. The territorial authority may publicly notify the notice of requirement in the same way that resource consent applications are notified [sections 95A-F].
  4. If the requirement is publicly notified the public notice must be in the prescribed form (either Form 18 or Form 19). The notice must be served on specific people including affected parties, relevant iwi authorities and local authorities and the Minister of Conservation and Minister of Fisheries where appropriate [Regulation 10 of Resource Management (Forms, Fees, and Procedure) Regulations 2003].
    1. Form 18: Notice of requirement by Minister, local authority or requiring authority for designation or alteration of designation [New Zealand Legislation website]
    2. Form 19: Public notice of requirement by Minister, local authority or requiring authority for designation or alteration of designation [New Zealand Legislation website]
  5. If the requirement is limited notified, notice of the requirement must be served on all parties who are considered to be adversely affected (except for those who have already given their written approval).
  6. If the application is not notified then the territorial authority may make a decision under step 7 below.
  7. Any person may make a submission to the territorial authority relating to the notice of requirement if the application is publicly notified. The submission process is the same as the process for making a submission on a resource consent. See An everyday guide to the RMA: Making a submission on a resource consent.
  8. Any person who is served notice of a notice of requirement may make a submission to the territorial authority relating to the notice of requirement if the application is limited notified.
  9. Any submission on a notice of requirement should be made in the same way as a submission on a resource consent application.
  10. The territorial authority may conduct a pre-hearing meeting or it may proceed straight to a council hearing of the notice of requirement if it is publicly or limited notified.
  11. In considering the notice of requirement, the territorial authority must have regard to the information set out in the requirement notice, public submissions, the factors outlined in section 191, and shall also have particular regard to:
    1. whether the place merits protection
    2. whether the requirement is reasonably necessary for protecting the place to which the requirement relates
    3. whether including an area of land surrounding the place is necessary to ensure its protection and reasonable enjoyment of the place
    4. all relevant provisions of any national policy statement, New Zealand coastal policy statement, regional policy statement, proposed regional policy statement, regional plan, proposed regional plan and district plan
    5. ... Section 189 (1)
    6. as appropriate, management plans or strategies approved under any other Act which relate to the place.
  12. The territorial authority makes a recommendation back to the heritage protection authority as to whether the heritage protection authority should confirm (with or without conditions) or withdraw the requirement.
  13. The heritage protection authority makes a decision whether to accept or reject that recommendation, in whole or part.
  14. The territorial authority must ensure that if the notice of requirement was notified that every person who made a submission receives notice of the heritage protection authority's decision.
  15. The territorial authority or any submitter to the notice of requirement may appeal the decision made by the heritage protection authority under section 172, to the Environment Court.
  16. Depending on the outcome of the appeal, the heritage order may be placed in the district plan.

Find out more

For more particular advice on how to include a heritage order in a district plan, contact your district council or refer to the provisions in the RMA (sections 187-198) [New Zealand Legislation website].

Contact details for each council can be found on the Local Government New Zealand website.

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