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Firth Tower, MatamataHeritage refers to things of historic value, including buildings, possessions, and culture that have been passed on to us by previous generations. There are a number of sites in the district that contain heritage values including:

  • The Te Aroha Heritage Character Area, which is a unique array of historic buildings and places.
  • Historic buildings and places that are registered on the New Zealand Heritage list (formerly the Historic Places Trust Register) and within the District Plan.
  • Archaeological sites that contain features such as middens and pa sites.
  • Culturally significant sites, including pa sites, urupa (burial site), and marae.

Our Situation

 Te Aroha Heritage Character Area

Development in the district can result in pressure to inappropriately use and develop heritage and cultural sites. The Te Aroha Heritage Character Area has special recognition to protect its unique buildings and places.

Plan Change 47 – Plan Your Town examined both the extent of the Te Aroha Character area and the mechanism for protection of character values for buildings within the area. To make the rules more effective, the Character Area was reduced in size to a central area around Whitaker Street and Boundary Road, and it was also renamed the Te Aroha Heritage Character Area. The rules now also focus on building frontages rather than applying to all buildings on the sites in question.

From 2008/09 to 2018/19, 12 resource consents have been applied for (and granted) to substantially modify scheduled buildings in the Te Aroha Heritage Character Area. These have mainly related to altering the appearance of buildings by the addition of signage or decks.

In 2012/13 two consents were granted. Extensions were made to the Te Aroha fire station. This was granted with the effects being considered minor given that the appearance of the original building appeared unchanged from the street frontage, with the additions being recessed from the main building, and that the upgrade allowed for its continued use as a fire station.

The Te Aroha Masonic Lodge was rebuilt for use as a veterinary clinic. This included demolition of the building, which was in disrepair, apart from the floor, and reconstruction using the original bricks, and replica stucco detailing, and wooden framed doors and windows. The form, materials and detailing of the building were reinstated, and therefore the effect on the Te Aroha area was considered limited. One consent was granted in 2013/14 to refurbish an existing retail facility within the Te Aroha Heritage Character Area while a consent was granted in 2014/15 to erect a workshop in the Character area on Rewi Street. No consents have been granted since 2014/15.

Two consents were granted in the 2006/07 year to develop structures in the Heritage Character Area. One structure was a covered outdoor area for a hotel and the other was a garage. There have been no consents granted to construct new buildings within the Te Aroha Heritage Character Area in the last 10 years.


Heritage Features 

Since 2008/09, two resource consents have been granted to modify listed heritage features outside the Te Aroha Heritage Character Area. The most recent consent application was granted in 2013/14. It was an extension of time for a resource consent first granted in 2008/09. This was for the removal of the Thames Valley Power Board building in Matamata. Council worked through conditions for this consent with the Matamata Historical Society and a condition was imposed requiring that if the building is removed then a monument be built in its place.

 Number of resource consents granted to modify listed heritage features outside Te Aroha Heritage Character Area



09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19
Number of consents granted 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0

The number of resource consents applied for and granted involving sites that contain or adjoin a known culturally significant site has been very low.  In 2011/12, there was one application involving the relocation of the Horahora Historical Power Pylon to the Firth Tower Reserve, and also an upgrade of buildings at the Rukumoana Marae. In 2012/13 there was an application to construct a new wharenui meeting house to replace an existing building at Raungaiti Marae in Waharoa. There was also an application to quarry adjacent to the Ongatiti Ignimbrite Bluffs, which were found to be unaffected by the proposal.  In the last year, two consents were granted for erosion protection works beside Lake Karapiro, and for the construction of a farm bridge over the Topehahae stream.


Number of resource consent applications involving sites that adjoin or contain a culturally significant site


09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16  16/17 17/18 18/19
Number of applications 1 0 2 2 0 0  0 2 0 0

There are 88 listed heritage features in the Matamata-Piako District Plan. These include historic buildings such as churches and commercial buildings, as well as monuments, geological formations, and landing sites. 

In the 2010/11 year the Te Aroha Power House was added to the heritage schedule. Electric current was provided to the Te Aroha Borough in 1906 through this facility, making the borough the first local body in the Thames Valley to provide this amenity. Water was taken from the Tunakohoia and Omahu Streams, stored in a reservoir above Hamilton Street, and then delivered by pipeline to the power house. The plant became a standby electricity source in 1923 after power from the Arapuni Hydro Dam became available. The listing in the district plan schedule was in response to a 2006 request from the community that the Power House, water reservoir and the Tunakohoia Pipeline at the Hamilton Street site be protected.

There are 78 other culturally significant sites in the district including urupa (Māori burial site), pa and midden sites, and marae. One of these culturally significant sites (a pa site) was added to the District Plan in the 2006/07 financial year after a plan change was undertaken.

The 2013 Waikato Regional Perception Survey found that 76 per cent of respondents in the Matamata-Piako District were satisfied with the ‘unique or special character of your town’. This has increased from 74 per cent satisfaction in the 2010 survey.