New Cultural Property Bill passed

The Cultural Property (Protection in Armed Conflict) Bill has been recently passed by the House. The bill covers New Zealand’s international obligations to protect cultural property during war from destruction such as vandalism or theft.

“This bill reinforces New Zealand’s role as a good international citizen by fully joining us up to the system of international measures to dissuade would-be traffickers of stolen cultural goods,” Mr Finlayson said. It also strengthens the current practices of our armed services personnel overseas.

Ref: AWNS-19141022-47-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections
“Cultural property” under the bill includes important cultural heritage as well as the buildings in which it is held. This includes libraries, nationally important archives and scientific collections, registers of births, deaths and marriages, land information, citizenship and protected objects, major museums and art galleries. Within New Zealand, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust's list of Historic Places Category 1 registrations and wāhi tapu registrations are also likely to be included, along with the list of national historic landmarks, which are being considered by the government.

This bill relates to the 1954 Hague Convention or to quote its full title, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Hague Convention was passed as a result of the  widespread devastation and destruction of cultural significant property during World War II. It recognises that mutual commitment between nations is necessary in order to protect the world’s cultural heritage from the consequences of war.

Ref: AWNS-1943050514-3, Sir George Grey Special Collections
New Zealand ratified the Convention in 2008 but legislation was required before New Zealand could comply with the Convention and its two Protocols.“While there may seem to be little likelihood of New Zealand being the subject of armed attack by another nation, listing significant cultural property to be protected is an important function of the Convention,” said Mr Finlayson.