Historic land records

New Zealand’s survey and land registration systems have been through several cycles of change since 1840. This page lists all the older types of land record once held by LINZ – some are now stored elsewhere.

New Zealand’s land records are held in three forms – the original paper records, on microfilm, and as digital files:

  • Original paper records: many of the original title records are now held by Archives New Zealand as part of the country’s public archive; some are still held by LINZ, if required for ongoing business use. LINZ continues to hold all records relating to the survey cadastre.
  • Microfilm: there is a range of microfilm/aperture cards covering a variety of records in each of the country’s 12 land registration districts, with a full national set held in Wellington.
  • Digital records: all updates to land records are now registered electronically, and many of the older records have been digitised as part of our Landonline system.

The lists on this page show in summary form which of our older land records are held by LINZ, and which are held by Archives. Some types of records are stored partly at one agency, partly at the other (the divisions can depend on the historical actions of separate land registration offices).

Record sets are stored as close as possible to their land registration district (see map). They are accessible through a LINZ office, or through a branch of Archives.

In many cases, you will be able to order a copy of the record through LINZ.

The Archives New Zealand online portal Archway currently provides a descriptive list of all records held there, and is easily searched; you can also use Archway to arrange to view records in person. Digital copies of some records held by Archives, such as surveyors’ field books, can be viewed at LINZ.

Note re: ‘historic’

You’ll find with land records there are two meanings for the word historic. There is the common meaning, of something old, belonging to an earlier time period. That’s how the word is used in this page title. There is also the technical term, as in ‘Computer Register – historic’, which means the register of title that relates to anything before transfer to the current owner. Its date could be as recent as yesterday, if the purchase has just gone through. A land records system needs that distinction between ‘current’ and ‘historic’ – just check you are sure how the word is used each time.

On this page:

Where records are held

Held by LINZHeld by Archives NZ
All records detailing the cadastre 
Survey plans, except for the 'roll plans'Roll plans – larger, older plans of many types
Field books: in original or in digital formOriginals of 800 of the earliest field books of particular fragility or historical interest
Traverse records/sheets
All current title records and the few remaining deeds that are currentA full national set of Crown grants
Digital copies of deed indexes and registersAll original deed indexes and registers
A set of copies of the original deeds that were recorded in the indexes and registers 
Some original Abstracts and Journals - which record documents lodged in the title systemSome original Abstracts and some of the earlier sequences of Journals
Some other volumes documenting title and surveying activitiesSome other volumes documenting title and surveying activities
Some Crown property paper filesSome Crown property paper files

Records relating to land ownership

Abstract/lodgement form

Chronological inventory of documents lodged against a particular title. Historically, the method of recording lodgement varied across land registration districts – see also Journal. SAMPLE

Crown Grants

The evidence of grants of Crown land to individuals, which date as far back as 1840. Crown grants are now held at Archives. SAMPLE

Crown records

These are records that relate to the purchase or disposal of land by the Crown, other than the core title and survey records. See our Crown Property section.

Deeds

This was how most property ownership was recorded in New Zealand before the land titles system. The significant record is the notation in a Deeds Register – see ‘Registers & indexes’ below; also ‘Plans (deeds plans)’. All deed registers and indexes are now held at Archives. SAMPLE

Instruments (Documents)

As for more recent land records, the historic records also include ‘instruments’ – the legal documents dealing with sale and ownership of land that are registered on the title. The most common types are transfers, mortgages, discharged mortgages, easements, covenants, leases, restrictions, caveats and transmissions).

Journal

Chronological record of all lodgements in the title system (at a particular office). Historically, the method of recording lodgement varied across land registration districts – see also Abstract. SAMPLE

Provisional registers

These recorded interim title issued for land held under Māori Land Court jurisdiction. See ‘Searching for Māori land records’.

Registers & indexes

Registers were used to record information such as the receipt of a document or plan – usually in chronological order. Their use varied between land districts. Types used include block registers (or cadastral record maps), field book registers, Parish registers, plan registers, reserves registers, section registers, and survey district registers.

Indexes provide cross-references to the registers and to a wide range of other records. They can be in text or map form, and be paper-based or electronic. They include LINZ’s primary index Landonline, which replaced the Land Titles System (LTS) and the Survey Data Index (SDI). Other index types include the deeds indexes, section indexes, tenure indexes, statutory action index, index to places and streets, and even each title (as they contain abstract or document numbers.

Warrants

Title to Crown land issued by Governor-General’s warrant. Sometimes the warrant was used as the title document rather than issuing a new title. 

Records relating to survey

Field book/notes

Detailed records of field measurement made by surveyors, including some of the earliest survey records. SAMPLE

Legislation cards

These record statutory actions against parcels on survey plans.

Plans (deeds plans)

These plans support the deeds records by showing land areas that have been divided up by particular deeds.

Plans (SO, DP, ML)

These are the plans deposited as legal representations of land in the title system. They are organised in sequences, including Survey Office (SO), Deposited Plan (DP) and Māori Land (ML). Some of these (often the older ones) are filed as ‘roll plans’, and are held at Archives.

Plan registers

Registers recording all plans as they were lodged in a particular land registry, in numerical order. See also Registers and indexes above. Traverse record/sheet Surveyors’ technical records, showing how the survey was completed, with tabulated lists of survey mark names, vectors between marks, and coordinates of these marks. See also Registers and indexes above.

Traverse record/sheet

Surveyors’ technical records, showing how the survey was completed, with tabulated lists of survey mark names, vectors between marks, and coordinates of these marks. SAMPLE

Last Updated: 5 July 2017