Threats to historic heritage

The following activities may threaten the protection of historic heritage: 3975

Maintenance and repairs: Maintenance and repair of historic buildings is necessary to ensure they do not decay beyond repair. However, inappropriate maintenance and repair can result in irreversible damage to heritage values.

Alterations and additions: Alterations and additions are often required to respond to the changing uses of historic buildings. However, alterations and additions which are poorly conceived and designed can undermine historic character.

Relocation: The historical relationship of a place with its surrounds is important. Relocation can diminish historical significance.

Subdivision: Subdivision leads to changes in land use which can compromise the setting of historic heritage. It can separate historic heritage (for example gardens may become separated from a homestead) and introduce new inappropriate activities (for example a motorway).

Surrounding use and development: Surroundings may be important for two reasons: they may contribute directly to historic heritage values or enable historic heritage to be experienced. New buildings can compromise historic heritage by obscuring or dominating a historic building. New activities (such as sewage treatment works, motorways) can render the area aesthetically unpleasant and compromise public appreciation of historic heritage.

Partial demolition: The value of historic buildings is often perceived to be limited to its front façade. Many buildings are partially demolished leaving only the façade remaining. This results in the significant loss of historic heritage.

Demolition: Demolition results in the total loss of historic heritage. Demolition by neglect can occur through abandonment or lack of maintenance.

Signage: The style of a sign may be inappropriate, its fixtures may damage a building, or a sign may obscure views of historic heritage.

Earthworks, reclamation, dredging: Activities which alter the lay of the land, such as earthworks, reclamation and dredging, can disturb and damage historic heritage.

Coastal processes: Flooding, coastal erosion and sea-level rise have the potential to damage historic heritage near the coastal edge.

Land Use:  Underground services, fencing, access roading, vehicle access afforestation, timber harvesting, ploughing, mowing, border dyke construction and intensive grazing can damage archaeological sites

The International Council on Monuments and Sites Charter is a good guide to protecting the integrity of historic buildings and sites. The New Zealand version of the ICOMOS Charter is often adopted by local government as a standard 3976 . The Historic Places Trust’s discussion paper on the Sustainable management of historic heritage is also of value.

  1. New Zealand Historic Places Trust ‘ Sustainable Management of Historic Heritage Discussion Paper No. 1 Historic Heritage Principles and Issues’. Available online:


Last updated at 3:03PM on November 17, 2017