Deeds, deed registers and deed indexes

The deeds system was the main way property ownership was recorded in New Zealand before the land titles system. There is a very small area of land remaining in the deeds system.

A copy of the deed itself was held by the landowner, as their evidence of ownership, while the original was lodged and registered – LINZ still holds a (partial) set of these documents.

Note, however, that the significant record of the land transaction is the entry in the Deeds Register.

All deed registers and/or indexes are now held by Archives New Zealand.

Deeds indexes have been digitised and are viewable online. Deeds registers can be only digitally copied, because of the size and fragility of the volumes, so you may need to view these in person, or pay for a digital copy of a specific page.

Example of deed

For the deeds indexes and registers held by Archives New Zealand – you need:

  • to know the relevant land district

and you need to have ONE of:

  • the legal description (appellation) or title reference for the parcel of land at the time OR
  • the surname of the owners of the land until circa 1900 OR
  • the Deeds index reference – you can work back to this from the current Record of Title for the property via the ‘prior references’ on the title documents.