Māori heritage can be described as nga taonga tuku iho no nga tupuna = treasures handed down by our ancestors.
Māori heritage can be divided into the physical/tangible, natural and intangible.
The physical/tangible heritage places can be described as those land-based places created, formed or shaped by earlier inhabitants. These can be archaeological sites (eg burials, pa, pits, terraces, oven stones, midden, stone/rock structures, rock-art, house sites, etc) or Maori built heritage places such as marae buildings, including their contents (eg carvings, artworks, photographs, etc) and structures (eg flagpoles, gateways, etc).
Natural heritage places may be natural features associated with traditional activities (eg springs, trees, swamp, caves, etc) or a tribal landmark (eg mountain, river, lands, sea/lake, village, etc) where no human activity is evident.
The intangible heritage places are those places that have intangible characteristics where no visible feature or evidence is present but where a significant event or traditional activity took place (eg battlefield, places of meeting, of learning, of ritual, fishing ground, taniwha den, etc)
All or any of the above cultural heritage places may also be considered to be wahi tapu, traditional sites, wahi taonga, or others depending on the iwi, hapu or whanau concerned.
~ Historic Places Trust
The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages around 10,000 Māori sites, ranging from sites of earliest Polynesian settlement to nineteenth century Māori economic, spiritual and military sites. All these sites are protected from development pressures and from avoidable harm, which makes them a key national collection.
~ Department of Conservation