Public works often cannot be carried out without affecting private landowners and their interests in land.

For these reasons many governments throughout the world, including New Zealand, provide themselves with legislative powers to compulsorily acquire land for public works so that public works proposals are not unreasonably delayed. A basic principle of our system of government is that no person shall be deprived of land by the Crown without receiving fair compensation.

In New Zealand the Public Works Act 1981 provides the power to acquire land for public works and to pay compensation. LINZ, on behalf of the Crown, is responsible for administering this Act.

A large number of decisions made by the courts in both the United Kingdom and in New Zealand aid interpretation of the compensation provisions of the Public Works Act. Entitlements to compensation are therefore well settled.