Find out how to identify non-residential or otherwise sensitive land.
Non-residential or otherwise sensitive land
All laned zoned on the District Valuation Roll as ‘residential’ or ‘lifestyle’ in New Zealand is ‘residential land’ and is sensitive. Non-residential land may be sensitive, depending on:
- its size and type
- what it is next to.
Sometime residential land is also sensitive for another reason. If it is sensitive for any reason other than simply being ‘residential land’ it is known as ‘otherwise sensitive’ land, and different rules may apply to it.
The full list of sensitivities can be found in the Schedule 1 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005. They are also explored in the sections below.
If you are an overseas person, you must apply for consent before investing in any sensitive land in New Zealand. You may need to seek legal and land expertise to help you determine the sensitivity of land.
Table 1: Land that is sensitive because of its type and size
Land of a type listed in the table below is considered sensitive if it is larger than the listed area threshold. For example, 5 hectares of farm land is considered sensitive land, but 3 hectares of the same land is not.
Land on these islands:
Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island)
Great Mercury Island (Ahuahu)
Mayor Island (Tuhua)
Slipper Island (Whakahau)
Land on other islands (other than North or South Island, but including the islands adjacent to the North or South Island)
No minimum size
Foreshore or seabed
No minimum size
Bed of a lake
Land held for conservation purposes under the Conservation Act 1987
Land that a district plan or proposed district plan under the Resource Management Act 1991 provides is to be used as a reserve, as a public park, for recreation purposes, or as open space
Land subject to a heritage order, or a requirement for a heritage order, under the Resource Management Act 1991 or by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014
A historic place, historic area, wahi tapu, or wahi tapu area that is registered or for which there is an application or proposal for registration under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014
Table 2: Land that is sensitive because of what it is next to
Land is also considered sensitive if it adjoins – is touching or shares a common boundary with – the types of land listed below and it exceeds the listed area threshold.
For example, 3 hectares of farm land would be considered sensitive if it adjoined a recreation reserve on the edge of a lake.
Adjoining land type
Area threshold for the land being purchased
Marine and coastal area
Bed of a lake
Land held for conservation purposes under the Conservation Act 1987 (if that conservation land exceeds 0.4 hectares in area)
Any reserve under the Reserves Act 1977 that is administered by the Department of Conservation (if that reserve land exceeds 0.4 hectares in area)
Any regional park or part of a regional park that is subject to a declaration under section 139 of the Local Government Act 2002 (if that park or part of the park exceeds 80 hectares)
Any national park held under the National Parks Act 1980
Land that adjoins the sea or a lake and is a Māori reservation to which section 340 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 applies (if that land/reservation exceeds 0.4 hectares in area)
Land over 0.4 hectares that includes a wahi tapu or wahi tapu area that is entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or for which there is an application that is notified under section 67(4) or 68(4) of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014
Land over 0.4 hectares that is set apart as Māori reservation and that is wahi tapu under section 338 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993
Land over 0.4 hectares that, as specified in Schedule 3 of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 or in regulations:
(a) is owned by the governance entity of a collective group of Māori such as an iwi or a hapū; and
(b) is managed in accordance with the Conservation Act 1987 or an enactment referred to in Schedule 1 of that Act
Any reserve under the Reserves Act 1977 over 0.4 hectares and as specified in Schedule 3 of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 or in regulations, is managed wholly or jointly by the governance entity of a collective group of Māori such as an iwi or a hapū
Te Urewera land (as defined in section 7 of the Te Urewera Act 2014)
Whanganui River (as defined in section 7 of the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017)
Maungatautari Mountain Scenic Reserve (as defined in section 71(1) of the Ngāti Koroki Kahukura Claims Settlement Act 2014)
Determining land area
In most cases, the land area will be the area described in the computer register (title) for the land. The exceptions are:
- Multi-storey buildings
- Land held under the Unit Titles Act 2010
- Associated land
Resources for identifying sensitive land
Sensitive land certificate
A sensitive land certificate can help to determine whether or not land is sensitive. You must provide a sensitive land certificate with your application for consent.
Landonline is one of the most important sources of information to determine whether land is sensitive. Landonline's online service enables surveyors, lawyers and other land professionals to search title dealings and survey data digitally.
The titles and title plans may identify:
- the area of the property
- adjoining properties of interest
- special land - foreshore, seabed, riverbed or lakebed
- gazette references (see below), and Reserves Act 1977 and Conservation Act 1987 references.
Licensed cadastral surveyors
Surveyors may be required to determine the boundaries of a property relative to the foreshore, seabed, a lake bed or a riverbed. Look under "surveyors - land" in the Yellow Pages or contact the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors.
District/regional plans & planning maps
District and regional plans and their associated planning maps are required to determine whether land is to be used as a reserve.
District and regional plans and planning maps may also assist with identifying wāhi tapu sites, roads, waterways and esplanade reserves.
Relevant territorial authorities
Territorial Authorities may hold additional information to that found in district plans and planning maps.
New Zealand Gazette
The New Zealand Gazette records things like the grant of reserves status and the creation of roads.
Aerial photographs may provide a useful overview of the property to assist with the assessment of whether the property is in an urban area.
Other resources for identifying cultural sites, historic places and conservation land
Heritage New Zealand register
The hard copy Heritage New Zealand register is the only reliable record of registered historic places, wāhi tapu (sites of special significance according to tikanga Māori) and wāhi tapu areas (groups of wāhi tapu).
Copies of the register can be accessed at every office of the Heritage New Zealand.
There is an online version, but it is not a complete reproduction of the register and therefore cannot be relied on.
Other sources of information about historic places
The New Zealand Archaeological Association holds extensive records of archeological sites. They also maintain a list of sites cross-referenced to mapping services.
Department of Conservation
The Department of Conservation may need to be consulted where it is suspected that land is held for conservation purposes.
Associated land is defined in section 8(4) of the Overseas Investment Act