Glossary of Surveying Terms.

221 Certificate - Subdivision Consent Notice
Where a "subdivision consent" is granted subject to a condition that is to be complied with on a continuing basis (i.e. A minimum floor level for a new house), the territorial authority will issue a "consent notice" specifying the continuing condition.

223 Certificate - Subdivision Consent Certificate
The approval by council of a survey plan that subdivides any land. This certificate is required for new certificates of title to be created.

224(C) Certificate - Completion Certificate
A certificate from council that indicates that all or some of the conditions imposed under the "subdivision consent" have been complied with.

Is an imperial measure of area and is equal to 0.404686ha or 4047m2

Is the process of combining two or more parcels of land under one certificate of title.

AS - Built Survey
Is a survey that verifies the work completed meets the specification of a particular project, and to give a record of the position of underground services.

Building Line Restriction
A restriction imposed on a site to ensure that when new buildings are erected or existing buildings relocated, altered or substantially rebuilt no part of any such building shall stand within the area specified.

Is a comprehensive official record of all land parcels in New Zealand (i.e. Properties, roads, etc). In New Zealand, this record is held electronically and is available on-line to the professionals that deal in land (i.e. Surveyors, lawyers and councils).

Carbon Farming
The Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry has set up a programme called Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) that promotes the establishment of permanent forests on land that was previously unforested. The growth of these new trees gives the owner the ability to accumulate carbon credits which are based on the carbon being stored in the growing trees. This process then allows the owner to generate income through the sale of these carbon credits to industries that wish to offset their carbon footprint.

Is an instrument registered against a certificate of title which prevents certain actions taking place within the title. A caveat will stop any dealing on a certificate of title including registration of transfers, mortgages, easements and variations of any other instrument on a title. A caveat will not stop registration of another caveat nor will it permit a caveator to exercise the power of sale.

Computer Freehold Register (CFR)
Is a register of all the freehold titles in New Zealand. It is the register that identifies the owner of a particular parcel.

Consent Notice
A consent notice is registered against land titles to advise future purchasers of particular features, restrictions and conditions that have been placed on the use of the land.

Controlled Activity
Is an activity described in a District or Regional Plan that council have specified certain matters over which they have reserved control. This means when applying for a "resource consent" for a controlled activity the council must grant the consent and, the conditions (if any) applied must be restricted to these control matters.

Cross Lease Subdivision

A cross-lease is a means of obtaining a title for a share in the ownership of a piece of land and a lease of a dwelling on that land. The joint owners effectively lease the buildings to one another. Each owner holds a "composite" certificate of title which records the land-share plus the lease. The lease is for a period of 999 years and the share corresponds to the number of dwelling units. The cross-lease plan shows the dwellings as "flats" and is often called a "Flats Plan". The use of outdoor spaces is often defined by covenant (agreement) areas which are also outlined on the plan.

Dominant Tenement

The land which enjoys a right (specified in an easement) over another piece of land is said to be the "dominant tenement."


An easement is a right for a land owner to use land, usually adjoining, owned by someone else, i.e. A right of way, right to drain sewage.

Easement In Gross

An easement in gross is an easement that, unlike a normal easement, does not attach to any dominant tenement; examples are the right of public utilities, such as power, gas, phone, water and sewerage, to use part of the land.


Is the method by which cadastral surveys can be prepared and submitted to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) via the internet. E-Survey became compulsory as of the 1st of September 2007.

Fee Simple

Referred to on your title as an "estate in fee simple". In brief terms this means you have the highest form of ownership of property in the NZ legal system.


Means to own the "freehold" interest in a parcel/section of land.


The "Global Positioning System" (GPS) is a "constellation" of satellites that orbit the Earth and make it possible for people with ground receivers to pinpoint their geographic location.

Guaranteed Title

Is a title that is guaranteed by the crown (i.e. "the government") under section 172A of the Land Transfer Act 1952. It is a title that is subject to no limitations (see limited titles).


Is a metric measure of area and is equal to 10,000m².

Height Restriction Covenant

Is a covenant that restricts buildings, structures and vegetation so that they do not penetrate a certain height plain. An example of a height restriction plain might be 2m up from the boundary line, and then extending at a 45° angle into the property.

Interim Title

Is a title unique to Hawke's Bay, and was created after the 1931 earthquake to equate for the titles and plans that were destroyed in the aftermath by fire. Is treated like a title that is limited as to parcels (see limited titles).

Land Covenant

A land covenant is an interest in land that is registered on the certificate of title of a property. The intent of a covenant is to limit or restrict the owner and any future owners as to how they use the land/property.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

LINZ holds authoritative information about land surveys and ownership, topographic maps and nautical charts. They make sure that the rating valuation system is fair and consistent and oversee the buying and disposal of Crown land.

Land Transfer Survey

Is a survey that transfers the rights of one title to other titles, by subdivision of land or the creation of units/cross-leases or the creation of easements.


Is the online service for surveyors, lawyers and other land professionals, providing access to New Zealand's only authoritative database for land title and survey information. It enables land professionals to search, and to lodge title dealings and survey data digitally.

Licensed Cadastral Surveyor

Licensed cadastral surveyors are authorised under the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 to undertake cadastral surveys (surveys that deal with property boundaries) and prepare survey datasets to enable the creation and transfer of interests in land. They are charged under the act for maintaining the integrity of the cadastre.

Limited Title

Titles that are ‘limited as to parcels' are for sites where the area and dimensions of the title are not guaranteed by the Crown (see guaranteed titles). Sites that are limited to parcels are generally older subdivisions where a proper survey was never undertaken. Sites may end up being much smaller once the formal survey occurs, affecting land-use matters such as density, and bulk and location controls. Generally, if subdivision is to occur, a surveyor will need to survey not only the entire site but also the surrounding sites in order to gather evidence as to where the boundaries are. The surveyor will use fencing, buildings, spouting and driveways to assist in determining official boundary positions.


Was the official measurement unit in New Zealand before the adoption of the metric system. 1 link is equal to 0.201168m. Most of New Zealand's roads were set out at 100 links (or 1 chain) wide.

Non-Complying Activity

A non-complying activity requires a resource consent before it can be carried out. A resource consent can be granted for a non-complying activity, but first the applicant must establish that the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor or that the activity will not be contrary to the objectives of the relevant plan or proposed plan.

Permitted Activity

A permitted activity may be carried out without the need for a resource consent so long as it complies with any standards, terms or conditions specified in the relevant regional or district plan.

Redefinition Surveys

Are surveys undertaken for the purpose only of reinstating 1 or more parcel boundaries.


In October 2005, the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors adopted "Registered Professional Surveyor" as the premier title for members of the Institute. Registered Professional Surveyors are accountable to the Institute for quality of workmanship, ethical behaviour and professionalism. They are the client's guarantee that work will be carried out to rigorous theoretical, practice and ethical standards set by the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors.

Resource Consent

Permission must be obtained to carry out activities that are restricted or controlled by the rules set out in the district or regional plan. This is done by applying for a "resource consent."

Right of Way

Is a right, set out in an easement, to pass over property.

Servient Tenement

The land which is subject (i.e. The land on which the right is granted) to a right (specified in an easement) is said to be the "servient tenement."


A subdivision is the division of a parcel of land, or parcels, into small parcels (sections). This results in the creation of new lots, each with its own distinct title.

Survey Definition

Is the process by which surveyors determine the position of boundaries, using old data, monuments and marks, to ensure that that the integrity of the cadastre is maintained.

Topographic Survey

A survey that measures the elevation of points and position of features on a particular piece of land, and presents them graphically.

Total Station

Is a surveying instrument that combines a theodolite (measures angles) and a Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) device.

Unit Title

A unit title provides separate ownership of a "principal unit" (the dwelling) and one or more "accessory units" (e.g. Garages or outdoor spaces). There are lower and upper limits prescribed for each principal and each accessory unit so that all of one's dwelling and any other buildings or outdoor living areas, service courts etc are contained in compartments of space which one owns rather than leases. As on cross-lease plans, there can be, and usually are, one or more "common" areas covering common driveway or common open spaces jointly owned by all the unit owners. A body corporate is required for the administration of each unit title arrangement.

 The following websites provide a larger resource for survey and legal related definitions.

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