Anyone excavating land – from a small area for a house
site all the way through to a quarry operator – needs to be
aware that there may be a requirement to obtain an Archaeological
Authority under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014
If you haven't considered this issue before commencing your
activity you may be in breach of the obligation to obtain an
Archaeological Authority under the Act. Failure to comply with the
Act can result in a maximum fine of $300,000 if an archaeological
site is destroyed.
An Archaeological Authority acts as sign off for activities to
occur at an archaeological site. It sets out how any discovery is
to be dealt with, as well as sometimes permitting modification or
destruction of a site.
The definition of an 'archaeological site' is incredibly
broad, encompassing all places that were associated with human
activity that occurred before the 1900s, and which may provide
evidence relating to the history of New Zealand. This definition
captures large swathes of the country.
Although district plans identify areas of particular historical
significance, these do not limit the areas where an authority would
be required. There will be many areas that meet the definition of
an archaeological site that have not been identified by district
If there is a chance that an archaeological site could be
modified or destroyed – for example by quarry operations,
building developments or other earthworks – an Archaeological
Authority is required. This is particularly relevant given the
current Christchurch environment, with many older buildings being
demolished (which may be archaeological sites themselves), and
earthworks taking place for new buildings to be constructed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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