If a Crown agency considers its property has any of the following values or has any issues or questions about any of the values it should seek advice from the appropriate contact agency.
Natural values include plants and animals and their actual (or potential) habitats, ecosystems, landscapes, landforms and processes, and geological features.
The significance of a site can be assessed by measures of: the size of the area, populations or features that the area contains; the biodiversity that it contains; how natural the site is; how representative it is; how rare and/or threatened the features it contains are; the buffering or linkages that the site provides to other sites; how viable the site is; and the ecosystem services that the site provides.
Some information resources that can be used to consider and help protect significant values on Crown-owned land proposed for disposal include:
- Department of Conservation Biodiversity Data Inventory, Threatened Plants Database, Herpetofauna Database and casual observations
- NIWA Freshwater Fish Database
- NIWA Freshwater Biodata Information System
- Protected Natural Area Programme and other natural area survey reports, held in libraries, DOC and local authority offices
- New Zealand Threat Classification System Manual
- New Zealand Threat Classification System Lists
- National Priorities for Protecting Rare and Threatened Native Biodiversity on Private Land
- New Zealand Geopreservation Inventory
Contact: Department of Conservation Conservancy Office (DOC staff are likely to refer you to other useful contacts).
Existing and potential recreational uses of the land should be considered before disposal. The following questions may help the Crown agency to identify what, if any, recreational use of the land should be protected before its disposal:
- Has the property been used for recreational activities, such as walking, biking, fishing, or horse trekking? (Note that these uses may co-exist with other specific development of the land, such as forestry.)
- What is the level of public access to the property?
- Is the property close to other recreational facilities that could fulfil the same purpose as the property in question?
If there is existing public use, it can also be useful to contact local recreational groups such as hunting or fishing organisations, and tramping or orienteering clubs.
Contact: Sport NZ
Historic heritage is defined in the Resource Management Act 1991, and can include historic sites, structures, places and areas, archaeological sites; sites of significance to Māori, including wäi tapu. Crown agencies may have large and significant portfolios of historic heritage that illustrate past and present government activities, or hold sites dating from Māori and European settlement.
The Policy for Government Departments; Management of Historic Heritage 2004 applies to government departments. The policy sets out principles that other Crown agencies may also wish to consider for the management of their land.
There are a number of information sources on historic heritage. Territorial authority district plans will record historic and archaeological sites. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga compiles a register of registered historic places, historic areas, wähi tapu and wähi tapu areas, and the New Zealand Archaeological Association has a register of recorded archaeological sites.
Contact: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Cultural significance to Māori
Māori communities may have a particular relationship to sites on land administered by a Crown agency. Te Puni Kokiri’s Sites of Significance process applies to specific types of Māori heritage or cultural sites. The aim of this process is to have protection using existing statutory and administrative provisions in place before the land is transferred out of Crown ownership.
Other sites may also be of heritage and cultural significance to Māori. These include traditional religious ceremony sites, wananga sites, traditional resource sites, battle sites, occupation sites, boundary markers, sacred landscape features and sources of water for healing and death rites.
A Crown agency may become aware of such sites during its management of the land, through direct approaches from Māori, or as part of its relationship with local communities. If so, measures necessary to protect such sites should be considered before disposal of that land.
Use in a future Treaty settlement
There are a number of mechanisms for dealing with Crown-owned land in Treaty of Waitangi settlements, including:
- the right of first refusal and other provisions contained in legislation and deeds where settlements have been reached
- the Office of Treaty Settlements’ Protection Mechanism for land held by government departments, district health boards and Crown research institutes, which provides for Māori to express an interest in the Crown setting aside land for possible use in future settlements, and
- memorial systems for SOE land, Crown forestry land and education land transferred to tertiary institutions.
Where land is not covered by any of the above mechanisms, it would be prudent to discuss the disposal with the Office of Treaty Settlements as early as possible to identify whether any issues may exist. This includes where claimants have identified a specific property for use in a settlement or where the Crown is in current negotiations with an iwi in the area.