Heritage New Zealand, formerly named the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, was established to manage and maintain many of the country's historic buildings and sites. The Crown entity, currently governed by a Board of Trustees assisted by a Māori Heritage Council, oversees 43 historic properties around New Zealand and maintains a list of thousands. The national office is in Wellington, with regional and area offices in Kerikeri, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
New Zealand Historic Places and Sites
There are a number of buildings throughout New Zealand that are maintained by Heritage New Zealand (In Māori, Pouhere Taonga). Several of the most important are also owned by the organization (effectively publicly owned). In addition, there are many historic sites (including significant Māori sites) that are recognized for their importance and significance.
Heritage New Zealand also maintains a List of Historic Areas and Places, including Maori sacred sites. There are currently more than 5600 entries on this searchable list. Many of these are privately owned, but recognition helps to ensure these places are protected from insensitive development. It is similar to the "listed" or "graded" building status used in other parts of the world.
The New Zealand Heritage List (formerly known as the Register of Historic Places) is divided into four topic areas: Historic Places, Historic Areas, Wahi Tapu (Māori sacred sites) and Wahi Tapu Areas. By searching this database you can get detailed information on historic buildings and sites.
Visiting the Heritage Sites
The visitors' site, Tohu Whenua: Landmarks that tell our stories, provides information on heritage sites (Tohu Whenua sites) open to visitors within three regions:
- Northland: In the Northland of New Zealand, heritage sites include the Clendon House, the 1860s home of Captain James Reddy Clendon, an important person in the history of New Zealand who witnessed both the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Also in that area is Kororipo Heritage Park where Māori people and Europeans came to trade and learn about each other's cultures peacefully.
- Otago: In the Otago region you can visit the vessel, TSS Earnslaw, known as the "Lady of the Lake," a grand 1900s-era steamship which was one of New Zealand’s original tourist attractions. For thrill-seekers, visit the Kawarau Suspension Bridge high over a canyon. Constructed in the 1880s, this innovative bridge became the birthplace of bungy jumping almost 100 years later.
- West Coast: A visit to New Zealand's West Coast is known for its natural beauty and will bring you in touch with New Zealand's rugged history. See the gold mining town of Reefton, the first place in the southern hemisphere to have electric lighting in 1888. Another mining history site, Brunner Mine, is the infamous place where New Zealand's most tragic mine accident took place—65 miners were killed instantly in an explosion. Now you can stand at the entrance to that mine and also see the nearby suspension bridge.
Heritage New Zealand also publishes the quarterly magazine, Heritage New Zealand, which is recognized as New Zealand’s leading heritage magazine covering topics on preservation and conservation of historic buildings and sites, as well featuring people who work to preserve the history of New Zealand.