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Do we have any world heritage?

By January 17, 20119 Comments

In a discussion the other day, a couple of us wondered if we (New Zealand) had any architecture which could be argued to warrant a World Heritage Listing.

Currently New Zealand has a couple of Natural Heritage sites on the World Heritage List (NZ Sub-Antarctic Islands, 1998; Te Wahipounamu/South West NZ, 1990), a Mixed Heritage site (Tongariro National Park, 1990) and numerous other landscape sites submitted to a Tentative List.  Napier’s Art Deco historic precinct, and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds historic precinct are the only architectural sites proposed – but surely we have more than this?  My guess is that any argument would be on the grounds of uniqueness, international influence or just sheer brillance.  The full criteria list also uses words like “masterpiece.”

So what are other possibilities?  The modern pa (Ruapekapeka, Gate Pa etc.) reputedly influenced trench warfare.  Parehaka is surely significant in the history of passive resistance – and I’m sure a link could be made to NZ’s nuclear free status?

… and hasn’t the Raurimu Spiral been called an “engineering materpiece”?  What about the architecture of Ratana, or Thatcher.  Some people might even say that Eden Park is of such cultural significant it’s international – scarily enough this year might be the one to put it forward for a nomination – if anything of its architecture is left …

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Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Rodders says:

    Why not join forces with South Australia and put forward a submission for the town planning of the Wakefield settlements of Adelaide and Wellington?

  • sally says:

    nice idea Rodders – I’m not sure how the World Heritage guys deal with heritage spread across several sites, but sounds like something worth investigating.

  • mimimus says:

    for those us who have no idea what you’re talking about… Can you elaborate what’s significant about the town planning of the wakefield settlements of adelaide and wellington?

  • Maximus says:

    an engineering “materpiece” ? freudian slip? or is it the Mother of all Railway projects?

  • sally says:

    trains have always had a close relationship with Freud …

  • Rodders says:

    World Heritage Sites are increasingly cross border- have a look at the Roman Frontiers WHS which covers sites in Scotland, Germany and Romania. Can’t see an Adelaidean/Wellingtonian submission causing any problems on that basis.

    Edward Wakefield’s ideas of creating a pre-industrial idyll (think Jane Austen in the Antipodes) were controversial at the time- even Karl Marx devotes a part of Das Kapital to mocking his views of recreating a European rural class system in a colonial setting. The ideal of a landed gentry owning a townhouse in a city seperated from their country estates by a green belt can still be seen in the the town planning of both Adelaide and Wellington. I think there’s a few academics out there (maybe at Vic?) who can provide a more nuanced explanation than I can…

  • Tom Ford says:

    Do we have any world heritage?

    When it comes to architecture the answer here is simple – no.

  • Guy says:

    Tom – harsh, too harsh. We do – we have some fantastic examples of architecture. Thinly spread in some areas – but places like Oamaru and Napier are well along the list for Heritage status. Why are you so sure that there are not?

  • David Reynolds says:

    New Zealand has the following cultural heritage sites on its World Heritage Tentative List, prepared by DoC, following public consultation on the discussion document ‘Our World Heritage.Towards a New Zealand Tentative List’.

    Kerikeri Basin historic precinct
    Auckland Volcanic Fields
    Napier Art Deco historic precinct
    Waitangi Treaty Grounds historic precinct

    The following natural heritage sites are also on the tentative list:
    Whakarua Moutere (North East Islands)
    Waters and seabed of Fiordland (Te Moana O Atawhenua)
    Kahurangi National Park, Farewell Spit and Canaan karst system
    Kermadec Islands and Marine reserve

    Only one cultural and one natural case can be brought to the World Heritage Committee in each year and progress to date has been slow. The only cultural site to be researched so far is the Napier Art Deco historic precinct and, curiously, the near 2 year old report has still to be made public.

    More detail on the process being followed can be found on