Māori rock art

There are rules in place to conserve and manage Māori rock art sites in the Ōrāri Temuka Ōpihi Pareora (OTOP) Zone in South Canterbury

South Canterbury has one of the highest densities of Māori rock art sites in New Zealand. Māori rock art sites are taonga (treasured/sacred) to mana whenua who actively contribute to their conservation and management; they are also protected under the Pouhere Taonga Act (2014).

Māori rock art is typically found on limestone outcrops and some farming activities can cause damage to rock art sites, even from a distance, if not appropriately managed. The Māori rock art sites are located within a landscape containing many associated cultural and natural values that need to be considered as a whole. These include dolines (limestone sinkholes), bluffs, springs, wetlands, waterways and rivers, threatened limestone ecology, archaeological material found in the shelter floors, and mahinga kai (traditional resources, and resource gathering areas).

Amendments to Schedule 7 of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan were publicly notified in November 2021, and include provisions to protect Māori rock art. The rules are within the Land and Water Regional Plan but here is some useful guidance.

Rock Art Management Areas

In South Canterbury, Rock Art Management Areas are places where Māori rock art sites and associated cultural and natural values are located.  In these areas, there are requirements for farming activities. If you have a Rock Art Management Area on your property and have a farming land use consent, your Farm Environment Plan should ensure:

  1. Irrigation is managed to avoid any adverse effects on Māori rock art sites and the historical, cultural, ecological and Ngāi Tahu values (eg wetlands, waterways, springs, indigenous vegetation and mahinga kai) associated with these sites and their surroundings
  2. Stock are excluded from any Māori rock art sites so to avoid damage to the artwork and surrounding area
  3. Farming practices are managed to protect Māori rock art sites by avoiding adverse effects that may modify, damage or destroy these sites and the values (e.g. archaeological material, wider freshwater resources, ecology, cultural values) associated with these sites.

The location of Māori rock art sites on your property should also be clearly identified and everyone working on farm should be aware of their location.

Next steps

  • Find out if all or part of your property is within a Rock Art Management Area by using this online map.
  • If you're farming or planning to farm in a Rock Art Management Area, you will need to address your management of Māori rock art in your Farm Environment Plan.
  • There are simple actions you can take to protect rock art and potentially include in your Farm Environment Plan. If Māori rock art sites are already being protected from farming activities, you may not need to take further action.
  • Get in touch online or phone us on 0800 329 276 to talk to a land management advisor, or contact the Ngāi Tahu Māori Rock Art Trust on (03) 684 9141 or community@teana.co.nz.