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Wednesday 30th July
The New Zealand landscape is seen by most New Zealanders as a place of great significance and value. It’s fair to say that most regard it as a key source of national cultural identity. Because of this both private citizens and organisations along with local and national government bodies have put various protocols and guidelines in place to ensure that land access for projects such as film productions can be arranged in ways that mean everyone’s obligations and duties are clear.
The system is designed to be practical and clear and, while not burdensome, does require some knowledge of the different kinds of land use and ownership in New Zealand.
The remainder of this section outlines some of the groups from whom permission may be required and the most important aspects of their protocols or guidelines.
There are certain issues which apply to operating a film production on any land in New Zealand, regardless of its ownership or status.
Our first recommendation is that you should employ a New Zealand location manager to obtain all your permissions. A New Zealand based location manager will be familiar with the conditions applying to all available locations and will significantly ease the time and effort required to secure and negotiate location use.
You should also consider the following in every situation:
Download a draft location agreement for private landholders (PDF, 6.62kb). This document is intended as a guide only and should be amended as appropriate for your production.
In all cases, your location manager, Film New Zealand or the relevant regional film office can assist you in contacting the relevant authority.
Filming on any part of a local public road where no road closure is required
Temporary traffic management planDiscontinuation of parking controls
Filming on a local road where stopping of traffic is required
See above + Temporary road closure
Filming on a state highway involving either roadside filming or holding of traffic
Temporary traffic management plan or temporary road closure
New Zealand Transport Agency + Local Council
Crew filming from a moving vehicle on a road, and/or filming actors in a moving vehicle mounted on a towed low-loader
Temporary traffic management plan
Local Council or New Zealand Transport Agency if on highway
Filming in municipal buildings
Filming in a local reserve
Film/temporary occupation permit
Local or regional council
Filming in a national park or other lands managed by DOC
Department of Conservation
Filming on other Crown land
Film permit/location agreement
Relevant government department
Filming in beach areas
Compliance with council bylawsPermission from adjacent landowner if access required
Filming on private land
Consent/agreementPossible resource consent
LandownerLocal or regional council
Filming on water - lakes, rivers, harbours
Landowner permissionAlteration to navigation bylaws/rulesUse of vesselResource consent if structures or alteration to natural features involved
LandownerHarbour masterMaritime New ZealandRegional council
Construction of sets / structures
Possible building consent/resource consent
Use of overweight or over-dimension vehicles
Use of firearms
Film armourer must have appropriate licence
NZ Police (arms officer)
Fire, fireworks, pyrotechnics, smoke effects
Local councilNZ Police & Fire Service
This section is designed to help filmmakers understand the significance that New Zealanders place on their landscape, and the steps necessary to obtain permission to film on public and private land.
Many locations throughout New Zealand - but particularly in rural and coastal areas - may be owned by Maori, or may have an important cultural value to Maori groups. Use of this land will require consultation with them.
Papatuanuku (Earth Mother) is the Maori word to describe the Earth. The term describes the value Maori attribute to land and the relationship it has to their spiritual well-being.
Land was not held individually by Maori, but by the hapu (subtribe) or iwi (tribe), and a tribe's well-being was associated with their land.
The Treaty of Waitangi recognises Maori, the original inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand, as the tangata whenua (people of the land) and guarantees Maori rangatiratanga (sovereignty) over their lands and taonga (cultural treasures).
Maori regard some sites as being waahi tapu (special places) and these include mountains (maunga), rivers (awa), burial grounds (urupa) and meeting grounds (marae).
The concept that land is a taonga (treasure) constitutes the principle upon which Maori protocols and guidelines for filming are based.
It is this background that should provide the basis of an understanding of the concept of Maori land and the respect that Maori land should be shown.
When filming on Council or conservation Land, consultation with iwi will be part of the process for these organisations, especially where filming takes place on or near waahi tapu (special places). Where possible, we recommend ensuring that proper consultation has taken place and if appropriate make direct contact with the iwi.
Please contact Film New Zealand if you require further information about filming on Maori land.
Contact details for Iwi can be obtained from:Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development) Head Office+64 4 922 6000www.tpk.govt.nz
New Zealand has 13 national parks and more than five million hectares – about a third of New Zealand's land mass – protected in parks and reserves. These lands contain a huge variety of landscapes and vegetation, and are recognised worldwide for their beauty. They also contain some of New Zealand's most popular and iconic filming locations.
The range of scenery in the national parks is unique – from the mangrove-fringed tidal inlets of Northland to the snow capped volcanoes of the Central Plateau, from the forests of the Urewera to the majestic fiords, glaciers and mountains of the south. Plants and animals found nowhere else on earth can be found here.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the guardian of New Zealand's conservation estate and administers its national parks. If you want to film in an area managed by the Department of Conservation, you need to apply for a concession.
Concessions are governed by the Code of Practice: Filming on Public Conservation Lands.
The Code’s stated purpose is to provide film crews with guidance and assistance to help them to conduct filming activities on public conservation lands in such a way that the values of the places where they film will be protected. The Code outlines the reasons why film images of Conservation Lands are controlled in this way. Chiefly it draws attention to the fact that inappropriate use of images of specific places can cause negative impacts, both for managers of those places and for iwi. Depicting activities that are not permitted or encouraged in certain places can, for example, create an erroneous impression in the minds of the public that such activities are acceptable. Serious offence to iwi can also be caused by inappropriate use of images of places or things of significant cultural value.
Code of Practice Filming on Public Conservation Lands (PDF, 187kb)
After familiarising yourself with the Code, consent forms and other relevant material such as information about fees can be found on DOC’s website.
Film crews should familiarise themselves with this process and follow the guidance when applying for their DOC concession. In most cases the application is best lodged at the DOC office nearest the primary location that is to be used.
National parks and conservation lands help make New Zealand a special filming destination. We encourage you to work closely with DOC on your filming projects and to treat the land with respect. That way our treasured locations can continue to be appreciated worldwide through the moving image.
Location filming that involves the following activities needs approval from the relevant local or regional council:
Many councils have implemented 'film friendly' policies. For more information and a list of Film Friendly councils please visit the Film Friendly page of this website.
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