Heritage NZ looks at drones

By Sandy Myhre

1 comment
Kerikeri's Stone Store and Kemp House have been buzzed by drones, with one hitting the Stone Store.
Kerikeri's Stone Store and Kemp House have been buzzed by drones, with one hitting the Stone Store.

Heritage New Zealand is developing a a drone policy for its historic properties after Kerikeri's Stone Store and Kemp House were buzzed twice last month, with the Stone Store hit.

During the first incident the operator of the drone was positioned across the river basin in Landing Rd and within sight of the neighbouring heritage buildings.

The drone crashed into the side of the Stone Store and the battery pack broke away from the machine's housing. It's believed the drone flyer was a "hobbyist".

Later in the month a wedding party began filming outside the Stone Store using a drone and with an official photographer. Heritage New Zealand charges a fee for wedding parties to photograph within its precincts but on this occasion it's thought the photography fee was not paid and the drone operator was believed not to have had permission to film.

Under Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules introduced last August, operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), - commonly referred to as drones - are required to have permission from the property owner or person in charge of the area they plan to fly over unless they have an operating certificate which can only be granted by the CAA.

Heritage New Zealand spokesman John O'Hare was reluctant to comment on either drone incident in June other than to say drones bring their own issues, including potential damage to historic buildings and injury to others.

Mr O'Hare said HNZ is developing a policy and processes for use of drones at its historic properties and will be making that publicly available.

The glass windows on both buildings are vintage and known to be delicate.

The corners of the Stone Store building are sandstone and soft, and the concern from locals and volunteers who work at the Mission Station is that drones could seriously damage irreplaceable parts of both structures.

The number of recorded drone "incidents" in New Zealand has risen in line with popular use.

In 2010 only one incident was reported to the CAA but by 2013 the figure had climbed to 121. Since the new rules were introduced the number of incidents recorded so far is 87.

Jessica Jennings, communications adviser with CAA, said drone operators flying in public spaces usually obtain permission from local councils who set their own rules and some councils ban drone flying over public places altogether.

Ms Jennings said people are urged to report incidents to CAA on 0508 4SAFETY (0508 472 338). Find out more at www.airshare.co.nz

- Northern Advocate

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