TOPIC:           The new SAHRIS online system
SPEAKER:     Nic Wiltshire
DATE:            Tuesday, 19 March 2013
TIME:             20h00
VENUE:         The Athenaeum,
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads

Nic Wiltshire will be introducing us to an exciting new system he has coordinated and developed in his role as project manager with SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency).
Nic is an archaeologist with a particular interest in rock art of the Cederberg and has approached various heritage projects from an IT perspective.
What makes this exciting for Vernacs is that the system is designed to facilitate public participation in heritage conservation.

SAHRA is the national body constituted by our Heritage Resources Act and is the “mother” body of all the Provincial Heritage Resources Agencies, such as Heritage Western Cape.

SAHRIS is an online system that is easy to use, created from freeware (software that doesn’t need licences) and seems set to make development and heritage generally a much more open and public process.

SAHRIS owes its existence to the responsibilities of SAHRA as outlined in the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA). SAHRA is the “parent” body of heritage permitting authorities, with provinces and local authorities all working within “delegated authority” from SAHRA.

In managing heritage resources, SAHRA needs to have an inventory of heritage resources and sites and to assess applications to alter, damage or destroy these sites. They need to include public participation in their processes. To meet the responsibilities outlined here, one of SAHRA’s recent projects has been the development of an online heritage management tool.

The result is an online system for managing heritage applications and for building a database of heritage sites and objects.  It’s called SAHRIS.

So, why is this system so exciting?
Well, for starters, it hasn’t cost the taxpayer a bomb – the software used is free.
Secondly, it is designed to make registering simple – as an interested party in an area or for a particular site or resource type or for a particular development.
Thirdly, it makes it easy for anybody to add information on a site or resource, so we can bring new sites and resources to the attention of the authorities easily.

Because SAHRA’s interpretation of who the NHRA defines as interested parties to heritage applications is, essentially, that all citizens of SA have the right to participate in heritage management, anybody can register on SAHRIS and comment in their personal capacity.

Organisations like VASSA may register as Conservation Bodies and nominate a spokesperson to comment on matters that fall within their area of interest.
Obviously, we are going to register VASSA as interested in vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes within the Western Cape!
This is going to make our Watchdog portfolio’s work much easier and will give us a real voice.

Another exciting component of SAHRIS is that any member of the public can add a potential heritage site or object to the database.
You register as a user on the SAHRIS website and then add the details of a site you’ve identified and documented. The SAHRIS administrator and the case officers in whose area of jurisdiction your proposed site falls then check your submission for credibility before adding it to the database.
Then, anyone wanting to develop on the identified site or sell or alter the object will know as soon as they log on to SAHRIS to submit and application, that the site has been identified and who the interested parties are to contact for consultation. No more protestations from developers and buyers that they didn’t know what the significance of the site/object was!
For those of you who want to explore SAHRIS, log on to 

In addition to this talk, we’re hoping to get Nic Wiltshire to give VASSA members a SAHRIS training workshop – So watch this space and get ready to book for the workshop!

There isn’t one this month because of the Easter weekend dates.

As is VASSA’s tradition, each year after the chair’s report and other matters of business that precede a shorter-than-usual talk, members are invited to celebrate next door over wine and snacks. Joy Saxon in her inimitable fashion is co-ordinating things. If you’d like to help please call her: 073 024 2747

The 2013 rate are:

R175 for singles
R300 for family
R265 for SACAP members
You received your invoice with last month’s newsletter & payment is due before April 25th