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    Introduction to land tenure and property rights in New Zealand. The history of land tenure change in New Zealand from pre-colonial times to the present, including Māori values in land, the Treaty of Waitangi, the Māori Land Court, the Waitangi Tribunal, and land related legislation.

    This paper is a core paper for the BSurv and BSc (Land Planning and Development), and it establishes a strong background for understanding the legal support for real property (land). SURV 206 provides an overview of the history of land and property rights in Aotearoa New Zealand.. It introduces Māori and colonial worldviews and the events leading to and including the Treaty of Waitangi, it examines the NZ wars and their relevance to land tenure. Colonial case law is examined to observe how Māori customary rights and the Treaty of Waitangi have been recognised in NZ law. 19th-century land legislation, including the Land Transfer Acts and the Native Lands Acts, are examined in order to understand the establishment of cadastral records and secure property rights in New Zealand. The paper will also discuss the role of colonial power in breaking down Māori society with particular reference to how colonisation affected Māori women access to land. It will also examine Māori activism and Māori land protests.

    The paper examines the transfer of land and property from Māori to European settlers, the early land law of New Zealand, the history of settlement of New Zealand and land issues arising from all this legal history. The content will provide a clearer view of the background to many of the land and resource conflicts we see in current New Zealand society.

    About this paper

    Paper title Land Tenure 1
    Subject Surveying
    EFTS 0.1334
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,206.20
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    108 points
    SURV 216
    Schedule C
    This paper is essential for surveying professionals in order to understand the importance of property rights in New Zealand law and culture and the origin of land conflicts. There is a strong focus on high standards of written communication suitable for the profession.

    Dr Francesca Marzatico

    Teaching staff

    Convenor and Lecturer: Dr Francesca Marzatico

    Paper Structure


    • Introduction to land and property law
    • Māori/customary land
    • English property law
    • Māori history of settlement
    • Treaty of Waitangi
    • Native Lands Acts
    • Land Transfer Acts
    • Property case law
    • Waitangi Tribunal
    • Current land conflicts
    Teaching Arrangements

    Exposure to a wide range of media, viewpoints and sources - historical, cultural and legal - such as newspapers, video and radio interviews.

    Lectures will introduce the content themes, point out specific foci for learning and explain some of the more important issues.

    Extensive reading is required (30 pages per week). The compilation of course readings (the Green Book) is a resource for you for this paper and subsequent papers and experiences.

    Tutorials will be the main arena for discussion and analysis of relevant information and, hence, will provide the most active learning forum.

    Additional sessions - guest lecturers and videos: These are designed to be stimulating and varied, to offer different perspectives on issues and to fill in some historical background.

    Practical Sessions: In non-scheduled class time, you will be required to visit the University libraries (Central and Law) and the Dunedin High, District and Environment Courts or the Māori Land Court.

    Handouts - Some supplementary materials may be handed out, and a set of review questions will be provided at various stages of the paper. This will give an indication of your expected learning goals.

    Blackboard - All lecture notes will be made available on Blackboard.

    This paper is fully internally assessed

    The object of the assignments:

    • To practise communicating and preparing a well-structured written report
    • To provide evidence that you have understood the principles of law and issues about land from the lectures, the tutorials and your experience
    • To apply those skills (communication and understanding) in a way that would be expected of you as a professional dealing with the law and with the land


    Introductory text: Coutts, B.J. and Strack, M.S. 2011. An Introduction to Land Administration and Planning. Otago University Print and MacGill Coutts Associates, Dunedin. Chapters 1-4.

    A course reader (case Law) is used - available from School of Surveying office.

    Also you must use: Strack M.S. 2004. Style Guide: A reference guide for preparing and presenting written work to the School of Surveying. Available from the School office.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    The goals of the paper are to:

    • Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate skills of critical analysis and written communication
    • Inform understanding and spark curiosity about our legal system
    • Enable students to analyse the elements of case law and law reporting
    • Understand the sovereignty of parliament and the effect of legislation
    • Understand local government subordinate legislation
    • Introduce legal and land issues of concern to surveyors
    • Consider the implications of private ownership and public rights in real property
    • Promote an appreciation of Māori values and attitudes to land
    • Understand the basis of Aboriginal/Customary Tenure
    • Investigate the meaning, significance, relevance and effects of the Treaty of Waitangi
    • Encourage an awareness of court decisions to do with the Treaty and with land
    • Recognise the effects of the Māori Land Court on Māori land
    • Examine some issues of tenure reform
    • Acknowledge the implications of our history on land, land disputes and tenure in New Zealand today


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 29-35, 37-42
    Tuesday 09:00-09:50 29-35, 37-42
    Tuesday 11:00-11:50 29-35, 37-42
    Wednesday 09:00-10:50 29-35, 37-42


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Monday 15:00-15:50 29-35, 37-42
    A2 Monday 16:00-16:50 29-35, 37-42
    A3 Monday 17:00-17:50 29-35, 37-42
    A4 Monday 18:00-18:50 29-35, 37-42
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