We administer the Protected Objects Act 1975 (formerly known as the Antiquities Act) which regulates:
- the export of protected New Zealand objects
- the illegal export and import of protected New Zealand and foreign objects
- the sale, trade and ownership of taonga tūturu, including what to do if you find a taonga or Māori artefact.
The Act also incorporates the UNESCO Convention 1970 and the UNIDROIT Convention. A copy of the Act can be found on the New Zealand legislation website. Details about the Ministry's enforcement and prosecution policy for this act is available on our legislation webpage.
19th century pare returned to Rotorua Museum and Art Gallery in December 2012.
Objects from the SS Ventor - August 2015
Five items from the wreck of the SS Ventnor, wrecked in 1902 and now lying in New Zealand territorial waters off the Hokianga Harbour, have been brought ashore in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Government through the Chief Executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage invites submissions of claims for ownership and/or possession from parties who may have an interest in some or all of the objects. We also invite submissions from parties who are not claiming ownership and/or possession but who wish to make submissions for consideration regarding the future care of the objects whether by them or by another party.
More details about the objects are available here.
Submissions should be received by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage by 23 November 2015.
Protected New Zealand Objects
Under the Act, there are nine categories of protected New Zealand objects:
- Archaeological, ethnographic, and historical objects of non-New Zealand origin, relating to New Zealand
- Art objects including fine, decorative, and popular art
- Documentary heritage objects
- Nga taonga tūturu
- Natural science objects
- New Zealand archaeological objects
- Numismatic and philatelic objects
- Science, technology, industry, economy, transport objects
- Social history objects
A detailed description of the categories is available in Schedule Four of the Protected Objects Act. Contact us if you are unsure if the object you have is regulated by the Protected Objects Act.
Antiquities Act 1975
On 1 November 2006, the Protected Objects Act came into force, superseding the Antiquities Act 1975. The name of the Act had to change as the term 'antiquities' was replaced with categories of 'protected objects'. Many of the principles and regulations of the Antiquities Act remain in the Protected Objects Act.
UNESCO and UNIDROIT Conventions
New Zealand's access to the UNESCO and UNIDROIT Conventions came into force in May 2007. The Conventions will further increase international protection for New Zealand heritage objects. It allows New Zealand to recover illegally exported objects and other signatory countries to recover protected objects illegally exported into New Zealand.
The UNESCO Convention establishes a framework for international co-operation. This is supplemented by the UNIDROIT Convention which provides for specific legal actions to recover stolen or illegally exported objects.