Heritage Landscape Criteria

Di Lucas, 2009

click here to download

From research, field testing and consultation with colleagues [1], heritage criteria are proposed. To undertake an evaluation, it is proposed that heritage landscapes in Aotearoa New Zealand be assessed with regard to:

A. Heritage Fabric

B. Natural Science value

C. Time Depth

D. Tangata Whenua value

E. Cultural Diversity

F. Legibility and Evidential value

G. Shared and Recognised value

H. Aesthetic value, and,

I. Significance

The proposed criteria are expanded and explained below.

A.  Heritage Fabric - Determination

The presence of heritage fabric and not simply an assembly of historically unrelated historic places or sites is determinative. Relationships, webs, spaces, nodes, networks, features and/or activities must be present and detectable. [2]


This criterion must be fulfilled with respect to the presence of links – historic places, archaeological sites and other evidence must be knitted together to express an historic fabric.

The presence of historically unrelated heritage elements in the landscape – no matter how valuable and important they may be individually – does not make it a heritage landscape.

B. Natural Science Values

The way natural values in the underlying landscape (geological, topographical, ecological and dynamic components of the landscape) have translated into the cultural landscape and influenced human actions, beliefs and traditions.


This is a criterion very similar to the ‘Pigeon Bay’ equivalent. The difference lies in the relativity of its application. It is not the values of the natural landscape themselves that are of importance but the way these values have translated into the cultural landscape and how they have influenced human actions, beliefs and traditions

C. Time Depth

Presence of era layers – links, overlays, eradication


This criterion assesses the depth in time that is present and expressed in a landscape. It explores the variety, number and linkage of various layers (if more than one). Quantity of layers is not part of the evaluation. A single time layer can express more heritage, and continuity, than multiple layers.

D. Tangata Whenua Value

Cultural and spiritual heritage values for tangata whenua identified in accordance with tikanga Maori.


The special status, importance and diversity of these peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand require specific assessment and recognition.

 E. Cultural Diversity

How the landscape expresses the presence of cultural/ racial variety in a variety of layers (tangata whenua, pakeha/European, Chinese, Pacific Islands, other) and whether and how these layers are linked or otherwise related to each other.


This criterion assesses the depth in landscape occupation and use by a variety of people/ cultures – in succession or simultaneously – the relationship between the cultures and the way they have collectively or individually shaped the landscape.

Despite separate recognition in D), tangata whenua layers must be included here.

F. Legibility and Evidential Values

How the landscape clearly expresses past cultural processes, strong historic connotations and evokes a distinctive sense of place …

and/ or

… how factual and recorded knowledge (archival, statutory, archaeological and ethnographic), oral and anecdotal history, folklore and other methods of historic tradition provide evidence for the physical presence of intact layers, remnant layers or traces.


This criterion assesses how robust layers have been or are, how legible they are and how they have been recognised in the landscape and in human memory.

This criterion needs to recognise that the lack of visible and also physical presence does not automatically devalue the heritage importance (tangata whenua layers or very old layers of any other culture “buried). A relict landscape with few traces can be more valuable than a landscape containing highly legible layers.

G. Shared and Recognised

Including social, symbolic and political values, and the relationship of the current generation with the heritage environment, its traditions and stories.


This criterion is to be applied in a manner similar to the identically named criterion within the ‘Pigeon Bay factors’. It is however, more widely scoped. It must also assess the way in which the current generation identify by their continuing and/or changing lifestyle choices with their heritage environment, its traditions and stories.

H. Aesthetic Values

Cultural patterns, processes and elements and their coherence, memorability, and community perceptions.


This is a criterion very similar to its ‘Pigeon Bay’ equivalent.

I. Significance

Representativeness, rarity, and distinctiveness of character - how strongly the heritage expresses culture(s) values, presence and development.


This criterion assesses how significant the layer(s) is (are) and how significant in expressing a culture’s values, presence, progress and development.

Significance must be assessed using the following sub-criteria, including:

  • the landscape is an expression of cultural, political or societal development;
  • the cultural landscape is a component of a precinct or area of importance to the community, iwi or the nation. [3]

[1] particularly Ralf Kruger, Registered NZILA Landscape Architect of Queenstown
[2] Factors from: STEPHENSON, J, BAUCHOP, H, PETCHEY, P; Bannockburn Heritage Landscape Study, Department of Conservation publication “Science for Conservation 244”
[3] Partially derived from: NZHPT; Sustainable Management of Historic Heritage, Discussion Paper No.3, Heritage Landscape Values, pp19-21