National parks contain a rich historical and cultural heritage for all New Zealanders – places of exploration, settlement, natural resource use and protection, warfare, communication, and ongoing spiritual and cultural associations. Such places provide us with a link between the present and the past and between ourselves and those who came before us.
The National Parks Act 1980 provides that sites and objects of archaeological and historical interest shall as far as possible be preserved (section 4(2)(c), National Parks Act 1980). It is an offence to interfere with or damage the historic features of any national park (section 60(1)(k), National Parks Acts 1980).
As part of its duty to actively protect the interests of tangata whenua, the Crown has responsibilities for preservation of sites of significance to them. Some sites of significance are known only to tangata whenua and are not identified publicly, in order to protect them.
5 Historical and cultural heritage
5(a) National park management plans should identify historical and cultural heritage in national parks and required outcomes for that heritage.
5(b) Historical and cultural heritage in national parks assessed as having high significance in accordance with the Historic Places Act 1993, should be actively managed (including restoration where this is necessary) within the context of integrated conservation management.
5(c) Tangata whenua, as kaitiaki of their historical and cultural heritage, should be invited to participate in the identification, preservation and management of that heritage in national parks.
5(d) Information should be recorded where historical and cultural heritage in national parks is threatened by unavoidable damage or destruction.
5(e) Historic buildings and structures in national parks should be used in ways that:
- i) enable their preservation;
- ii) are in keeping with their assessed significance; and
- iii) provide opportunities for the public to derive benefit, use or enjoyment from them.
5(f) Collections of antiquities and artefacts may be held in national parks where it is important to preserve their association with places, consistent with the provisions of the Antiquities Act 1975.
5(g) Monuments, pou whenua, plaques or other memorials may be sited in places within a national park where they are:
- i) associated with people, traditions or events of exceptional importance in the history of the national park;
- ii) consistent with national park values and the planned outcomes at a place;
- iii) consistent with the character of the site;
- iv) not attached to, or engraved into, natural features; and
- v) provided for in the national park management plan.
5(h) Non-invasive introduced trees or other plants of historic or scientific significance should be identified in the national park management plan and may be retained where determined by the Authority as having no significant adverse effects on natural or historical and cultural heritage.
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