Historic sites set to double

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 04/07/2014

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The number of recognised waahi tapu and archaeological sites in the New Plymouth district could more than double in the next year.

With a seven-year council review winding up, about 1100 more sites could be added to a list of 704 areas with waahi tapu (sacred place) or archaeological status.

If the sites are added, a consent could be required from the New Plymouth District Council before work could be done on any of them.

In most cases applicants who wanted to build on or near waahi tapu sites would have to consult iwi or hapu first.

Senior policy adviser Juliet Johnson said the review had been a significant piece of work.

The council had worked closely with hapu to identify potential sites and then archaeologists had analysed the areas, made site visits and given feedback to the hapu.

The proposed additions would be up for debate by the full council within the next year, before going out for public consultation.

"We have ensured we have got good-quality information in the plan," Johnson said.

Landowners had also been consulted and would have the chance to make submissions before any new sites were added to the list.

A waahi tapu site is an area identified by iwi or hapu as a spiritually and culturally important place.

Many waahi tapu sites are along the coast, rivers and estuaries, or around lakes.

An archaeological site contains physical evidence of pre-1900 human activity.

It is possible for a site to be waahi tapu and an archaeological site - examples include pa sites, sites of past battles or historic events, and remains of cultivation areas.

Johnson said the outcome of the seven-year review would be positive for the community.

"The New Plymouth district has a rich and diverse history in terms of Maori occupation.

"It's a part of the heritage of our landscape."

The review ensured the district had knowledge about its heritage, and was in a position to preserve sites of significance, she said.

If iwi or hapu gave their written consent to a proposed project on a waahi tapu site, then it would be likely that the application for consent would be processed.

However, if iwi or hapu did not give their written approval, the application could become publicly notified, which would allow any member of the public to lodge a submission in support of or against the application.

Heritage New Zealand would also need to be consulted for any application involving a registered historic place, historic area, waahi tapu or waahi tapu area.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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