Land Surveying incorporates components of Resource Management and Legislation.

The terminology can sometimes be explicit and peculiar. Here we demystify the terminology.

Affected Persons’ Written Approval

Affected persons’ written approval means the written approval required by a territorial authority from individuals or organisations that may be adversely affected by a proposed activity for which a resource consent is required. Written approval may be withheld if the individual or organisation believes they will be affected by the activity, or where the adverse effects cannot be avoided, mitigated or remedied.


Allotment means an allotment defined in section 218 of the Resource Management Act 1991 as any parcel of land under the Land Transfer Act that is a continuous area and whose boundaries are shown separately on a survey plan; or any parcel of land or building or part of a building that is shown or identified separately on a survey plan; or any unit on a unit plan; or any parcel of land not subject to the Land Transfer Act.

Amalgamation Condition

Amalgamation condition means a requirement whereby two or more adjoining parcels of land are held together in one record of title. An amalgamation condition may be required by a land transfer survey to include land not being subdivided and a subdivided allotment together in one of the new records of title.


Appellation means the legal description for a parcel of land. Land parcels in New Zealand have historically been named according to the land district and the purpose of the land. Examples include Section 97 Fitzroy Survey District – for Crown Land; Matarikoriko 7B2A Block – for Māori Land; Section 8 Block XLIV Town of Waitara West – for land in a town. A land parcel under the current land transfer system is described as a Lot on a Deposited Plan (DP), e.g., Lot 12 DP 604578.

Approved as to Survey

Approved as to survey means that Land Information New Zealand has checked and approved the survey dataset submitted by a licensed cadastral surveyor in relation to a cadastral survey.

Benefited Land

Benefited land means the parcel of land that benefits from or has the advantage of an easement over other land.

Boundary Adjustment

Boundary adjustment means a subdivision to change the position of one or more boundaries between adjoining land parcels but where no additional land parcels are created. A boundary adjustment may be used where land is transferred between adjoining owners by agreement, or where it is found that a legal boundary does not match long-standing occupation. A boundary adjustment is legally a subdivision and requires a resource consent.

Boundary Mark

Boundary mark means a physical mark placed by a licensed cadastral surveyor to mark the legal boundary of a parcel of land. A boundary mark is typically a large wooden peg driven into the ground and painted white at the top, or a stainless-steel disk marked “boundary mark” anchored into a fence post or into concrete.

Boundary Reinstatement Survey

Boundary reinstatement survey means a survey by a licensed cadastral surveyor to locate, confirm, and where necessary reinstate, one or more boundary marks from an existing land parcel. A licensed cadastral surveyor who reinstates a boundary mark is legally required to record the reinstatement on a survey plan lodged the plan with Land Information New Zealand. A peg placed or renewed without an official record has no legal status as a boundary mark.

Burdened Land

Burdened land means the parcel of land upon which an easement is placed for the benefit of other land and carries the 'burden' of the easement.

Cadastral Survey Act 2002

The Cadastral Survey Act 2002 governs cadastral surveying in New Zealand. The purpose 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; and requiring cadastral surveyors to meet standards of competence to be licensed; and providing standards for cadastral surveys and cadastral survey data.

Cadastral Survey Dataset

Cadastral survey dataset (CSD) means the set of cadastral survey data necessary to integrate a cadastral survey into the cadastre. Cadastral survey datasets hold all the survey information required to identify and define land parcel boundaries.

Cadastral Surveying

Cadastral surveying means the discipline of land surveying that relates to land ownership and property boundaries. Cadastral surveying involves the physical delineation of property boundaries and the determination of dimensions and areas of property, whether on land or water or defined by natural or artificial features, as well as documenting new survey information. It also concerns interpreting and advising on boundary locations, the status of land ownership, and the rights, restrictions and interests in property.


Cadastre relates to the parcel-based system of land administration. The Cadastral Survey Act 2002 defines the Cadastre as “all the cadastral survey data held by or for the Crown and Crown agencies”. The Cadastre comprises the physically defined boundaries for land parcels extents and the legal interests in land parcels, as well as datasets containing the public record of the land parcels and their associated interests.

Coastal Marine Area

Coastal Marine Area means the foreshore, seabed, and coastal water, and the air space above the water of which the seaward boundary is the outer limit of the territorial sea and the landward boundary is the line of mean highwater springs. Where the Coastal Marine Area crosses a river, the landward boundary is the lesser of one kilometre upstream from the mouth of the river or the point upstream equal to five times the width of the river mouth.

Consent Notice

Consent notice means a notice imposed as a condition of a resource consent for subdivision to ensure the on-going compliance of other conditions required by the resource consent, e.g., the on-going protection and maintenance of native planting. A consent notice is issued under section 221 of the Resource Management Act 1991 and is registered on the records of title of the relevant land parcels.

Controlled Activity

Controlled activity means an activity that is required to have a resource consent from a territorial authority and where the resource consent cannot be declined. The territorial authority may impose conditions on the resource consent that must be complied with by the applicant.

Cross Lease

Cross lease means an interest in land whereby the owner/occupier of a dwelling has a lease of that dwelling together with an undivided share in the underlying land. A cross lease record of title is a single title document recording the proprietors’ undivided share in the land and a lease of the particular dwelling. The cross lease may include common use areas and exclusive use areas. Any changes to the cross lease site or building(s) require the consent of all other owners, and may require an amended cross lease survey plan.

Crown Land

Crown Land means the land vested in His Majesty the King that is not set aside for any public purpose or held by any person in a fee simple record of title. Crown Land in New Zealand is administered under the provisions of the Land Act 1948.

Deposited Plan

Deposited Plan means the record of survey and boundary information from a subdivision of land that has been deposited by the Registrar General of Lands for the issue of new land titles. A deposited plan includes a graphical representation of the area and boundaries of the new land parcels, and is identified by a DP prefix and a number, e.g., DP 604567.

Development Contribution

Development contribution means a financial contribution imposed by a territorial authority to fund the added impact upon infrastructure resulting from a subdivision, land development or other land use. Infrastructure may include roads, water supply, wastewater, stormwater drainage, and parks/reserves and community facilities.

Discretionary Activity

Discretionary activity means an activity that is required to have a resource consent and where the territorial authority has full discretion to grant or deny the resource consent. The territorial authority may impose conditions on the resource consent that must be complied with by the applicant.

District Plan

District Plan mean the plan prepared by a district or city council to help them carry out their functions under the Resource Management Act 1991. The District Plan determines where activities can take place, what restrictions may be necessary, and what natural and cultural resources should be protected. The rules of the district plan set out the activities that can occur as of right (permitted activities) and the activities that will require a resource consent.


Easement means a right over another parcel of land without having possession of that land. The land subject to the easement is the ‘burdened land’ and the land receiving the benefit of the easement is the ‘benefited land’. An easement is tied to the burdened land and a landowner gains the benefit of that right only while they are in possession of the benefited land. Common easements include rights of way and rights to convey water, electricity and telecommunications, and rights to drain water and sewage.

Easement in Gross

Easement in gross means an easement granted to an individual or organisation as the ‘grantee’ and not to land. An easement in gross is typically associated with territorial authorities or utility companies providing bulk infrastructure services over the land, e.g., water supply, stormwater and sewage drains, telecommunications, and electricity.

Esplanade Reserve

Esplanade reserve means a land parcel set aside to protect riparian and coastal margins that is classified as a reserve under the Reserves Act 1977. An esplanade reserve may be required where an allotment in a subdivision is less than 4 hectares in area and adjoins a water boundary. The landward boundary of an esplanade reserve is fixed and does not change when the water boundary changes. Ownership and management of an esplanade reserve is transferred to the territorial authority at the time of subdivision.

Esplanade Strip

Esplanade strip means an interest over a land parcel to protect riparian and coastal margins. An esplanade strip may be required by a rule in a district plan when land is subdivided, and is created by a legal instrument between the landowner and the territorial authority. The esplanade strip is registered on the record of title as an interest in the land but the land remains in the ownership of the landowner. The landward boundary of an esplanade strip is always parallel to the water boundary and moves with the water boundary.

Freehold subdivision

Freehold subdivision means the creation of allotments by subdivision under the Land Transfer Act 2017 where ownership of each allotment is held in a fee simple estate. Fee simple means that the ownership of the land and any building on the land is held solely by the person(s) listed on the record of title. Freehold is the most common form of subdivision.

Land Covenant

Land covenant means a covenant registered against the record of title to land that restricts the use of a part or all of the land by the current and future owners, e.g., a land covenant may limit the height or location of buildings on the land, or may be used to protect and preserve existing trees and vegetation.

Land Information New Zealand

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) means the government department responsible for property and location information. Land Information New Zealand is responsible for managing land titles, geodetic and cadastral survey systems, topographic information, hydrographic information, managing Crown property and supporting government decision-making around foreign ownership.

Land Transfer Act 2017

The Land Transfer Act 2017 replaces the Land Transfer Act 1952 with a modern Act that continues and maintains the Torrens system of land title in New Zealand.

The fundamental principles of the Torrens system are - to provide security of ownership of estates and interests in land; and to facilitate the transfer of and dealings with estates and interests in land; and to provide compensation for loss arising from the operation of the system; and to provide a register of land that describes and records the ownership of estates and interests in land.

Land Transfer Plan

Land transfer plan means a cadastral survey dataset that is prepared under the Land Transfer Act 2017 to allow the creation of interests in land such as allotments, easements and covenants. A land transfer plan refers a cadastral survey dataset that is approved by Land Information New Zealand but from which new records of title have not yet been created. A land transfer plan is identified by an LT prefix and a number, e.g. LT 523456.

Land Use Consent

Land use consent means a resource consent required under the Resource Management Act 1991 to undertake an activity on land that may have effects upon the receiving environment and that is not permitted ‘as of right’ in a district plan or regional plan.

Landscape And Visual Impact Assessment

Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) means a methodology used to assess the impact of an activity within the surrounding landscape and recommend pathways to avoid, mitigate or reduce any potential adverse effects. An LVIA may be required as part of a resource consent application where the proposed activity is likely to have an adverse impact on the landscape.

Licensed Cadastral Surveyor

Licensed cadastral surveyor means a surveyor licensed under the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 as the only individuals legally authorised to perform cadastral surveys in New Zealand. Government regulation of cadastral surveying reflects the importance of the land cadastre in New Zealand.

Limited As To Parcels

Limited as to parcels means a limitation on a record of title where the Registrar-General of Land does not guarantee the shape, dimensions or area of the parcel of land described in the record of title.

Any dealings in the land that are reliant on the shape, dimensions or area of the parcel will first require a survey by a by a licensed cadastral surveyo to remove the "limited as to parcels" status. The surveyor will interpret all the available physical and documentary legal, survey, and occupation evidence and make a determination of the property boundaries. Agreement to the surveyed boundaries is required from all adjoining landowners prior to the Registrar-General of Land issuing a new "guaranteed" record of title.

Limited Notification

Limited notification means notification of a resource consent application is limited to those persons identified by the territorial authority to be directly adversely affected by the proposed activity, and only those persons notified can make a submission on the application.

Maori Freehold Land

Maori Freehold land means land where, after investigation by the Māori Land Court and where the land has not subsequently been sold, the customary interest has been converted to a fee simple interest . Where more than one person owns the land, the tenants in common may hold unequal shares, and the size of the interest of each owner is noted in the court orders creating the freehold record of title.

Non-Complying Activity

Non-complying activity means an activity that has not been anticipated by a rule in a district plan or regional plan and a resource consent is required. A territorial or regional authority can refuse to give consent for the non-complying activity where the adverse effects of the activity cannot be avoided, remedied or mitigated, or when the activity is contrary to the objectives and policies of a district plan or regional plan.

Permitted Activity

Permitted activity means an activity that does not require a resource consent. A district plan or regional plan may state that certain activities can happen without resource consent, or the activity may not be specifically mentioned but complies with all the relevant rules in the district plan or regional plan.

Record of Title

Record of title means the record registered under the Land Transfer Act 2017 that documents the legal ownership of a parcel of land and all dealings with that land, including transfer of ownership, mortgages, interests, and subject and appurtenant easements.

Regional Council

Regional council means the local government body responsible for the management of natural resources including land, air, and water; supporting biodiversity and biosecurity; providing regional transport services; and building more resilient communities in the face of climate change and natural hazards.

Resource Consent

Resource consent means a consent granted by a local or regional authority for an activity that might adversely affect the environment and that is not permitted ‘as of right’ by the Resource Management Act 1991 or by a rule in a district plan or regional plan. A resource consent may be granted subject to conditions that need to be complied with to avoid, mitigate or remedy the potential adverse effects on the environment.

Resource Management Act 1991

The Resource Management Act 1991 is the key piece of New Zealand legislation that sets out how we should manage our environment. The RMA was created in October 1991 to achieve a more coordinated, streamlined, and comprehensive approach to environmental management. While the RMA provides the overarching guide for environmental management, with national direction on significant issues, it allows communities to make decisions on how their local environment is managed through regional and district resource management plans. The RMA also recognises the Treaty of Waitangi in decision making.


Restricted Discretionary Activity

Restricted discretionary activity means an activity that is required to have a resource consent and where the territorial authority has discretion to grant or deny the resource consent, but only when decided on specific matters set out in the district plan or regional plan. The territorial authority may impose conditions on the resource consent that must be complied with by the applicant.

Right of Way

Right of way means an easement that conveys a right to use part of another landowner’s land for access purposes. The right of way easement is registered on both records of title. The rights and obligations associated with the right of way are documented in an easement certificate. The party gaining the benefit of the right of way may pass over that land on foot or by vehicle but may not obstruct the access in any way. Similarly, the landowner providing the right of way cannot restrict access nor cause an obstruction to the right of way.

Scheme Plan

Scheme plan means plan prepared as part of a resource consent application for subdivision as a visual representation of the proposed subdivision layout. A scheme plan will include the location of new boundaries, the dimensions and areas for the proposed allotments, road access, and any other pictorial information that will assist the territorial authority to understand the proposed subdivision and its compliance with the district plan rules.

Section 223 Certificate

A certificate under section 223 of the Resource Management Act 1991 is required by the Registrar-General of Land prior to the 'deposit' of a survey plan and prior to the issue of new records of title. A section 223 certificate is issued by a territorial authority in respect of a subdivision consent to certifiy that the layout and information on the finalised survey plan conforms to the subdivision consent granted by the territorial authority.

Section 224c Certificate

A certificate under section 224c of the Resource Management Act 1991 is required by the Registrar-General of Land prior to the 'deposit' of a survey plan and prior to the issue of new records of title. A section 224c certificate is issued by the territorial authority and states that the survey plan has been approved under section 223 and all the conditions of the relevant resource consent have been complied with to the satisfaction of the territorial authority.

Section 348 Certificate

A certificate under section 348 of the Local Government Act 1974 is required when a property owner wants to create a right of way over land and no subdivision is taking place. The certifcate is issued by the territorial authority and may impose conditions upon the construction and use of the right of way. The section 348 certificate and a survey plan must be submitted to Land Information New Zealand for the right of way easement to be registered upon the subject land.


Subdivision means the process of dividing a parcel of land or a building into one or more parts or changing an existing boundary location. Subdivision creates separate and saleable Records of Title that define the current interests in the land (including buildings) and may impose limitations on the landowner or occupier on how the land can be used or developed. Subdivision can only be undertaken if expressly permitted by a District Plan or a resource consent.

Survey Office Plan

Survey office plan means a cadastral survey dataset that is not prepared for the purposes of the Land Transfer Act 1952 and does not create new interests in land. A survey office plan may be a survey for the acquisition or disposal of Crown Land, a boundary reinstatement survey, or a survey of information not related to property boundaries. A survey office plan is identified by the SO prefix and a number, e.g. SO 543210.

Territorial Authority

Territorial authority means a city council or district council responsible for the sustainable management of the city or district, the health and safety of people and the environment, the provision of infrastructure, and the control of the potential adverse effects associated with land use.

Topographical Survey

Topographical survey means an accurate 3-dimensional representation of existing ground levels and contours, and typically includes physical features such as buildings and other physical objects, planting and infrastructure services upon (and sometime under) the land. A topographical survey is translated into a digital or hard-copy format as a basis for assessment and design of new developments.

Unit Title Subdivision

Unit Title subdivision means subdivision under Unit Titles Act 2010 of a building or buildings where the land built on is held in a single Record of Title and separate ownership is required for each building or part thereof. The Unit Title subdivision permits ownership to be defined in three dimensions, e.g., multi-level developments. A Unit Title is comprised of (1) ownership of an individual unit; and (2) an undivided share in the ownership of the common property.

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