Learn how work programmes - whether forest, bush, wetlands, freshwater or coastal work - all have the potential to harm our cultural and historic heritage.

A person squatting over the ground while removing weeds.
Volunteer clearing vegetation on historic Koru Pa, Wanganui

Why do we have to protect our heritage?

Our heritage helps us gain an understanding of New Zealand’s past and how this shapes and defines our Kiwi identity.

DOC has a legal responsibility to protect the cultural and historic heritage on conservation land from harm.

You can help protect heritage sites

The most effective way to protect archaeological, cultural and historic sites is to know where they are located before starting your work programme.

This can be done by seeking advice from a DOC heritage specialist - check with the local DOC office.

The heritage specialist will be able to provide information on the location of any heritage sites in the area you are planning work and advise you on how to avoid them.

Māori archaeological site found in sand dunes, Aotea Reserve, Waikato. Photo: C Rudge.
Midden, Aotea Reserve, Waikato

What if you accidentally come across something historic?

You could come across something archaeological during your work. Anything from a small artefact, to shells and bones, or occasionally even human remains.

It is very important that you stop work in the vicinity of the find, record the location and any other details that you can. Take a photograph if you have a camera.

Then report your discovery to the DOC heritage specialist. They will be able to tell you what the next step is.

A flat triangular black piece of stone as large as a hand.
Māori adze, found on Tawhiti Rahi Island

What heritage is there on conservation land?

Archaeological sites, artefacts and man-made features

These are often hidden underground or covered in vegetation. Even if they can be seen, most people may not know they are archaeological or historic. Just because you can’t see anything - doesn’t mean there isn’t anything there.

Buildings, structures and machinery

Can be found both near towns and in remote locations in the bush. Sometimes they are still complete but often are in a ruined condition. Just because they appeared ruined – it doesn’t mean they have no historic value.

Places of Māori importance

Even where there are no physical remains at a place, it can have many stories relating to it and a strong cultural connection for Māori.

Trees and plantings

Exotic trees and plantings are often considered as “weeds” to be removed, but if they are part of a historic site, then they may be protected.

Where is heritage on conservation land?

There are stories and remains of our heritage throughout all conservation land – from the mountains, in the bush, across plains to the coast.


Find and contact your local DOC office:

DOC offices

Related links

DOC guides & handbooks:

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