should be recognised with World Heritage Site status
OPINION: Aotearoa New Zealand likes to think it punches above its weight internationally, but there is one area where we are conspicuously falling behind — the number of sites recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
Globally, there are 1121 recognised World Heritage Sites, both cultural and natural. Each has had to satisfy at least one of ten possible selection criteria, adjudicated by the World Heritage Committee, meaning it possesses “outstanding universal value”.
With each such listing comes global recognition, cultural pride and economic rewards. But despite Aotearoa New Zealand’s rich and celebrated natural and cultural wonders, we have contributed only three to the international list: Te Wahipounamu in the South Island, Tongariro National Park in the North Island, and New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands.
While there is a good tentative list of potential submissions, we believe it is now out of date and the country needs to go further. Mostly, we need to be thinking in much broader terms about the reasons we value our heritage.