Restrictions on unlicensed surveyors undertaking redefinition surveys

Toitū Te Whenua sometimes receives enquiries about unlicensed surveyors undertaking cadastral surveys commonly referred to as ‘redef’ surveys or boundary reinstatement surveys. Read our guidance on the application of the provisions in the Cadastral Survey Act 2002.

One of the primary purposes of the Act is to ‘promote and maintain the accuracy of the cadastre by requiring cadastral surveys to be done by, or under the direction of, licensed cadastral surveyors’ (sections 3 & 47). It is an offence for others to undertake ‘anything for the purposes of a cadastral survey’ (section 57).

The term ‘cadastral survey’ is defined quite broadly in the Act as ‘the determination and description of the spatial extent (including boundaries) of interests under a tenure system’ (section 4). Thus, a cadastral survey is not limited to surveys that require a cadastral survey dataset.

If the client of an unlicensed surveyor, or any other person such as a neighbour might reasonably think that the surveyor is qualified to determine (locate) the position of a boundary, then the unlicensed surveyor is likely to be in breach of the Act.

The following points are intended to provide guidance where unlicensed surveyors, who are not acting under the direction of a licensed cadastral surveyor, are carrying out survey work:

  1. An unlicensed surveyor should clearly advise their client that they are not a licensed cadastral surveyor and that they are not qualified or permitted to determine the position of a boundary.
  2. Under no circumstances should an unlicensed surveyor place a mark that could be considered by any person, including a neighbour, to be a boundary mark defined by rule 36 in the Cadastral Survey Rules 2021 (ie. a traditional peg or any other mark labelled as a boundary mark).
  3. An unlicensed surveyor should not place a mark of any type on a boundary corner, offset to a boundary or along a boundary with the intention that any person, including someone other than their client, might believe that this mark can be used to accurately locate the boundary.

These points are provided for guidance only. In cases of doubt it is recommended that provisions in the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 are considered, including the definitions. A copy of the Act can be obtained from the New Zealand Legislation website.

Alleged breaches of the Act may be reported to the Surveyor-General. Supporting evidence will assist investigation of reported breaches.


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