Report looks to managing district's heritage

David Ritchie, a member of the working party which developed a new report on Central Otago...
David Ritchie, a member of the working party which developed a new report on Central Otago heritage management, outside the old Hartley Arms Hotel on Sunderland St in Clyde. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
A final report on Central Otago heritage management has been released.

It outlines community-inspired recommendations for managing the future of Central Otago's heritage, including natural and cultural heritage.

A working party led by Central Otago district councillor John Lane was tasked with holding community meetings and developing the report.

''We have had a lot of input from a lot of people with a lot of passion. The people of Central Otago have articulated their vision for our heritage, how it should be looked after and celebrated,'' he said.

The Central Otago Heritage Trust has volunteered to make the strategy work.

Trust chairman and working party member Graye Shattky said the trust was pleased to take on that role because, ''while responsibility for specific aspects of heritage has long been undertaken by a wide range of organisations, community groups and committed individuals, it is clear that effective implementation of the report's recommendations requires a degree of overarching co-ordination''.

Among the report's recommendations was to explore options for a central database to record heritage items. Heritage would need to be identified, which could include surveying, evaluating and reviewing items, time-consuming activities which could require input from experts and incur significant costs.

Establishing a criteria for what could be included could also pose problems, especially for items such as landscapes.

There are existing inventories, such as the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, the Central Otago District Plan and the New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Recording Scheme, but not all items are on all three inventories and each has its own associated criteria and legislation.

The district plan includes about 300 heritage buildings, places, sites and objects and about 25 notable trees, about a third of them registered with the Historic Places Trust. Because heritage items were spread across three different inventories, the associated legislation could also present challenges.

''While there are laws and processes for any alterations, additions or the intentional demolition of heritage structures, there is no legislation protecting against demolition by neglect. With most heritage places on private property, this can create tension in communities. It can further be exacerbated by a lack of understanding about the law on the one hand, and potential costs and a perceived lack of respect for property owners' rights, on the other,'' the report said.

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