Constitution of the Trust
Suggestions which had been made from time to time that an organisation should be set up to look after such matters crystallised in the private member's Bill introduced into Parliament by Duncan Rae in 1953. Although the Bill itself did not proceed, responsibility for the necessary legislation was assumed by Government and the Historic Places Act of 1954 established the National Historic Places Trust which first met in the following year. In terms of the Act it is one of the Trust's main functions to preserve, mark, and record “such places and objects and things as are of national or local historic interest or of archaeological, scientific, educational, architectural, literary, or other special national or local interest”. The Trust as constituted consists of a chairman and 12 members to represent the Maori race, historical and founders' societies, the University of New Zealand, the Royal Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Library Association, the Art Galleries and Museums Association, and the New Zealand Institute of Architects. The Act provides for various categories of associate members who elect a member to the Trust. The Secretary of Internal Affairs, whose Department has for some time been concerned with such work as had been possible in the past, and the Director-General of Lands are ex officio members. In 1963 the name was amended to New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
The Trust, at the outset, decided to work locally through a network of regional committees, 17 of which were originally set up, based on land districts. It is the function of such committees to determine priorities within their districts, to conduct local surveys where necessary, to stimulate public interest, and generally to act as agents of the Trust. In some areas individuals have been appointed to act in a similar way. A set of guiding principles for preserving, marking, and recording historic sites was drafted for guidance in classifying and determining the relative importance of the many suggestions which the Trust received.