The survey system administered by Toitū Te Whenua forms a key part of the survey and land tenure framework that supports land ownership in New Zealand.

Toitū Te Whenua is responsible for providing and maintaining the certainty of private property ownership by recording survey and land title information and by making this information available to support economic activity.

Integrated systems

Authoritative records of property rights depend on accurate information about property boundaries.

  • The geodetic system provides the underlying spatial reference framework used for cadastral surveys.
  • The cadastral survey system provides a regulated system for accurate documentation of property location and related information such as boundary dimensions and areas.
  • The land registration system records ownership and property rights information.

Toitū Te Whenua's functions and responsibilities in relation to the New Zealand survey system are set out in the Cadastral Survey Act 2002. The Office of the Surveyor-General, which is based in Toitū Te Whenua, sets the standards for the cadastral and geodetic systems and monitors and audits compliance with those standards. See our survey system publications for more information.

Components of the geodetic, cadastral and land registration systems are integrated in the electronic Landonline survey and title system managed by Toitū Te Whenua. 

The geodetic reference system

The geodetic system and associated national survey control system are based on New Zealand Geodetic Datum 2000 (NZGD2000) – a geocentric datum compatible with global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

The geodetic survey control network provides a reference framework for cadastral surveys, engineering surveys, topographic mapping, hydrographic charting and various geospatial or geographic information systems.

Toitū Te Whenua also maintains a GNSS active control network (PositioNZ network) to supplement the network of physical control marks.

Geodetic control data is integrated with cadastral survey data in Landonline. You can also search or download geodetic mark data.

The cadastral survey system

Toitū Te Whenua cadastral survey records are known as the cadastre. These record the location of boundaries of rights and interests in land under various tenure systems including freehold, leasehold, Māori and Crown land.

The accuracy of New Zealand’s cadastre depends on tight management of survey standards and processes.

Cadastral surveys can only be undertaken by a licensed cadastral surveyor or a person acting under the direction of a licensed cadastral surveyor. Licences are issued by the Cadastral Surveyors Licensing Board annually and their renewal is based on the maintenance of competency. The board consists of 5 members appointed by the Minister for Land Information, as well as the Surveyor-General.

Landonline holds the digital cadastral survey records for freehold, leasehold, Māori and Crown land. This online system replaced paper-based survey records system that had operated in various forms in New Zealand since the 1840s. Since 1 September 2007, it has been mandatory to lodge plans electronically through Landonline via e-survey. Surveyors can no longer submit paper plans. Most survey records have been converted into digital form. However, some rarely used or fragile survey records remain in paper form. Refer to historic land records for more information.

In the case of subdivisions subject to the Resource Management Act, the local authority certifies the survey to verify that subdivisional requirements and services, such as providing roading and drainage, have been met. Landonline provides an option for the online certification of surveys by local authorities (territorial authorities).

Land transfer plans are the most common kind of survey plan. In the case of a land transfer plan, when Toitū Te Whenua is satisfied the plan meets the legal requirements, it deposits the plan. The existing title for that land area is cancelled, and new computer registers (certificates of title) are created for new parcels of land shown on the deposited plan.

For more information on the cadastral system see Cadastre 2034, a strategy for developing the cadastral system.

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