Heritage Plan Change

​Looking after our heritage

How we identify and protect historic heritage is an important role of Council. One way we can do this is to provide protection and conservation of historic heritage by adding specific provisions to the Hamilton District Plan – the 'rule book' for how our city develops.

Why is heritage important?

Heritage is something from the past that has value and needs to be safeguarded for future generations. It can be represented in a number of ways including buildings and structures, heritage areas and landscapes, natural areas, archaeological sites, areas and sites of significance to Maaori, taonga, artefacts and documents. All of these contribute to our national identity, embodying all generations, cultures and communities, and provides a sense of identity and belonging.

Heritage and the Hamilton District Plan

We're required by Central Government and Waikato Regional Council to identify and protect historic heritage. The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) requires councils to protect historic heritage and the relationship of Maaori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu and other taonga as a "matter of national importance."

The Waikato Regional Policy Statement, derived from the RMA, also requires the identification and protection of heritage. It also sets out the criteria for identifying heritage buildings and sites.

We also have a legal obligation under the Waikato-Tainui Environmental Plan and the Ngaati Hauaa Environmental Plan to recognise and provide for the relationship Maaori have to their taonga. This is all achieved through Hamilton's District Plan.

Our District Plan currently lists 122 buildings as historic heritage, three historic heritage areas, 500 notable trees and 52 archaeological and cultural sites and sets out policies and rules that define how they will be protected.  However, these lists have not been updated for some time. 

Not all of our historic heritage is listed in the Hamilton District Plan, and the growing demand for land and housing in the city poses a potential threat to existing historic heritage. We want to change this – and make sure we're better protecting all aspects of our heritage through the District Plan.

A key objective of this work is also to acknowledge the cultural significance of Kirikiriroa Takiwaa (area) to tangata whenua. We do this by recognising ancestral areas and sites of significance that connect tangata whenua with their ancestral lands, water, areas, waahi tapuu and other taonga, through planning methods.

We also need to review the policies and rules to make sure they protect historic heritage in the way that we want. 

How are we doing this?

Heritage buildings and structures

The identification of historic heritage buildings and structures helps us make sure our city's stories are protected for our future generations. Beale Cottage and Fairfield Bridge are great examples in Hamilton.

Heritage buildings and structures are identified using an historic and cultural heritage assessment criteria derived from Section 10A from the Waikato Regional Policy Statement. It considers the following qualities:

  • Archaeological
  • Architectural
  • Cultural
  • Historic
  • Scientific
  • Technical

We undertook the last citywide stocktake of the city's historic heritage in 1998. Since then, we've added certain items like the LDS Temple in Templeview, Hayes Paddock and individual buildings in Hamilton East. Now, we're reassessing all our historic heritage across to make sure we're protecting parts of our city that are important to us.

Our heritage specialists have used the qualities above, documents, photographs and maps to carry out desktop research and identify potential heritage buildings and structures throughout the city. The next step is to do an on the ground assessment of those identified buildings.  This can largely be done from the road, but in some cases the specialists may want to access the property to view it more closely.

Staff will use the assessments to create a list of buildings that should be protected. We will also look at the current policies and rules in the Hamilton District Plan to make sure they are protecting our heritage in the way that we want.

Sites and areas of significance to Maaori

Sites and areas of significance to Maaori are identified by and agreed to by tangata whenua. Currently, some of these sites are identified as archaeological and cultural sites in the District Plan.  

Sites and areas of significance are identified as waahi tapu, waahi tupuna, areas with customary rights, historic sites, cultural landscapes, taonga and other culturally important sites.  

As part of the heritage plan change we will be including policies and rules in the District Plan relating to these areas that have spiritual and cultural significance relating to the connections with tupuna (ancestors) and historical events in Kirikiriroa Hamilton.

Archaeological sites

Archaeological sites are identified through the register of known sites managed by the New Zealand Archaeological Association. 

They are defined by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 as any place that was associated with human activity that occurred prior to 1900, and through the use of archaeological methods provides evidence relating to New Zealand's heritage.   All archaeological sites, whether recorded or unrecorded, are protected.  

Recorded archaeological sites are listed in the New Zealand Archaeological Association website.  At the moment, only some have been scheduled in the District Plan. We want to update this to include all identified archaeological sites and make sure landowners are aware of these sites on their properties. 

Notable trees

Notable trees are trees of special importance that are protected in the District Plan. They can be located on either public or private land and are ‘notable’ because of their link to the community, scientific importance, species type, age and/or the contribution they make to the city.

All current and potential notable trees need to be assessed by an arborist. We are applying the STEM method which assesses the tree's health, size, shape and its historical and scientific background. 

We're reassessing all the notable trees in our District Plan to make sure they meet this criteria. That includes trees on both public and private property. We're also looking to identify other notable trees on public property for protection. 

Heritage areas

We have three historic heritage areas identified in our District Plan.  These are clusters of historic buildings that have special character and heritage values worthy of preserving for present and future generations. They are recognised for their connection with the development of the railway in the 1920s (Frankton Railway Village); a grouping of villas and bungalows in Hamilton East (Firth Street, Villa Precinct) and the first example of a fully planned subdivision and state housing in Hamilton (Hayes Paddock).


Now to September 2022 - Field work, research and assessments, options evaluation and plan writing. We will  also be engagement with affected landowners and the community. 

September 2022 -  Notification of the Plan Change and chance to make a formal submission. 

September 2022 to 2023 - Submissions, hearings and decisions. 

2024 - Appeals, mediation, Environment Court.


If you have any questions about this work, you can contact the District Plan team at: planchange@hcc.govt.nz.

Page reviewed: 15 Sep 2021 10:31am