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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Recent Changes

The Land Act of 1948 provides for the alienation of land by the Crown, and a fee-simple estate cannot be created under the Land Transfer Act of 1952 unless the land has been acquired from the Crown in accordance with the provisions of the Land Act. The latter Act does, however, provide for the registration of a number of estates, such as leases or deferred-payment licences from the Crown. These instruments may be registered separately thus constituting them a folio of the register. Dealing with such interests requires the consent of the Land Settlement Board.

The Land Transfer Act of 1870 provided for the registration of various forms of dealing with land, transfers, mortgages, leases, and transmissions – to name only some of them – but in recent years there has been an increasing tendency to provide for registration of new forms of dealing with land. The procedure with deferred-payment licences for payment by instalment was first seen under the Land Act, but it is now extended to agreements with the State under the Housing Act of 1955, and to those with local authorities under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1954 and the Counties Act of 1956, all of which are capable of registration under the provisions of the Land Transfer Act of 1952.

A further interesting development peculiar to New Zealand has been the use of the land transfer registers for the implementation of the town and country planning restrictions of recent years. Both the Municipal Corporations Act of 1954 and the Counties Amendment Act of 1961 give local authorities a wide discretion in imposing conditions on subdivision. The responsibility of seeing that these conditions are enforced is placed on District Land Registrars through their registers. Under modern subdivisional techniques, there has been a significant increase in mutual rights of way and services between adjoining sections. This development has to some degree complicated the land transfer registers and greatly increased the conveyancing work required in transfer of land in the new subdivisions. The Land Transfer Amendment Act of 1961 provided probably the most fundamental break from the 1870 Act when it made provision for the creation of the stipulated easements over land by statutory methods instead of by the traditional preparations of lengthy grants of easements by transfer.

The land-transfer system in New Zealand has been charged with undue rigidity, but it can fairly be said that it has always managed to meet the demands of the expanding modern community while at the same time retaining the essential simplicity which is the basic feature of the system.

by Ernest Keith Phillips, Registrar-General of Lands, Wellington.

  • Garrow's Law of Real Property, Adams, E. C. (fifth edition, 1961)
  • The Land Transfer Act 1952, Adams, E. C. (1958).