The Wellington Office of Archives New Zealand holds a large collection of Wellington Land District records from Lands & Survey (Wellington) and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
The core records comprise the Deeds Registration System, which was the predecessor and for a time parallel system to the Certificate of Title system in effect today.
Other records (mainly LS-W & AFIH) complement the Deeds Registration System and often give further information.
The Deeds Registration System documented changes of ownership and boundaries for pieces of land from the 1840s onwards. The key index in this system is the Deeds Index (DI), which gives an overview of what has happened to a parcel of land.
Under Deeds Registration, the first establishment of a land title was usually a Crown Grant or Warrant, which passed the land from the Crown into private hands. Later transactions and changes to the land could be registered into the Deeds System.
It was not mandatory to register a sale of land, but registration enabled ownership to be tracked and validated through a government system. When a transaction occurred, the documentation was taken to the Deeds Office. There it was numbered and copied into the relevant type of register, usually a Deeds Register (DR), Crown Grant Record Book (CG) or Will Book. The original document was returned to owner. These transactions were then copied into a Deeds Index.
Under the Land Transfer Act 1870, land transactions could be registered in either the Land Transfer system or in the Deeds System. From 1870 until 1924, the registration of land could be transferred from the Deeds System to the Land Transfer System (but not vice versa) leading to the Deeds Indexes documenting progressively fewer pieces of land until 1924. From 1924 onwards land could only be registered in the Land Transfer system as the Deeds system was phased out. Some land remains in the Deeds system today (generally where the ownership of the land has remained unchanged for a century or more). Archives New Zealand holds very few Land Transfer Act records (sometimes referred to as Certificate of Title records) as these records are held by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
Each land district administered freehold land within their respective areas.
In practice this means that the Deeds records cover land settled by European settlers up until 1870. Areas that were settled by Europeans after 1870 were registered under the Land Transfer Act and thereby bypass the Deeds System entirely.
Māori land is not covered by the Deeds System and neither is land held by the Crown.
To search the Deeds Registration System, one of the following is needed:
The first Certificate of Title issued against a piece of land may cite a preceding Deeds reference. This is noted in the top left corner of a Certificate of Title (see pages …..). Any subsequent certificates of title will quote the preceding certificate of title reference.
The first Certificate of Title issued for a piece of land is therefore key to locating historical information in the Deeds System.
Deeds Index volumes (held in the LINZ register room) record all the registered transactions for a piece of land on a dedicated page within the index.
Each page details the documents that were filed including the document (instrument) type and number, date of registration, date of the document and where it was recorded/transcribed. The last may be in a Deeds Register Book [AFIH 22395 W5691/100-386], a Crown Grant Book [AFIH W5687/67-88] or a Wills Book [AFIH 22879 W5687/259-270] (see below).
Deeds Index volumes are organised geographically by registration district and then by section number. There is an index at the front of each Index Book, giving the page numbers for registration districts.
A reference to the Deeds Index Book can also be found on the first Certificate of Title for a piece of land, which can be obtained from LINZ. If the land was transferred out of the Deeds system into the Certificate of Title system, underneath the final entry in the Deeds Index Book will be an Application Number for a Certificate of Title.
The Wall Chart in the LINZ Register Room lists all major Registration Districts in the Wellington Land District and gives a Deeds Index volume number [AFIH 22394 W5691/39-99] for each Registration District. Some Registration Districts are documented in multiple indexes and the Wall Chart will indicate which volume holds a given range of sections.
When a document was registered in the Deeds system it was assigned a l number, known as an instrument number. The Indexes to Primary Deeds (see below) list the documents sequentially by instrument number.
These Wellington Index volumes are a list of people who had an interest in a piece of land. Each name entry provides an instrument (document) number which leads to the Nominal Primary Indexes (see next column).
The alphabetical/nominal indexes were compiled as people registered documents into the deeds system, so while the names are listed by initial they are not in alphabetical order.
The first index (W5691/386) covers transactions taking place between 1845 and 1868. The second and third indexes (W5691/387 & 388) sporadically cover later years.
The Primary Deeds Indexes to Deeds are arranged by Instrument Number and state both the type of document and the parties to it. They refer (usually as book and page number) to where the document was recorded, for example in:
The Nominal Primary Indexes also provide a reference to the Deeds Indexes – [AFIH 22394 W5691/39-99], which show all dealings for that particular piece of land.
Instrument numbers can be found by searching for owner’s names in the Indexes to Primary Deeds – Alphabetical [AFIH 22396 W5691/386-388].
As each deed was registered an entry was made in a Deeds Register. The information in the register book includes a full transcript of the transaction, the instrument number, type of document, date registered, parties involved and a plan of the affected land.
Original Deeds could be deposited with the Registrar for safe-keeping, when registered into the Deeds system. Deposited documents were given a deposited Deed Number and the details were recorded in the Deposited Deed Books – [AFIH 22397 W5691/389-390]
Access to the Deposited Deed Books is through a Deposited Deeds (Nominal) Index – [AFIH 22398 W5691/391]
The Deposited Deed Books record the instrument number of each document in the Deeds System, which gives access to the Nominal Primary Indexes – [AFIH 22393 W5691/1-38] and through those to the Deeds Indexes – [AFIH 22394 W5691/39-99] and Deeds Registers – [AFIH 22395 W5691/100-385]. The original Deeds are held by LINZ.
A Nominal Index is also available to the Deposited Deeds c1845-c1868 – [AFIH 22398 W5691/391]. This provides references to both the Deeds Indexes and Deeds Registers.
Much of the land which the Crown later granted or sold to individuals was first purchased from Māori, and many records of those purchases exist. A few pertain to acquisitions for reserve, educational or other purposes.
Land taken under the Public Works Act is not documented in the Crown Purchase Deeds collections.
Many are individually listed on Archway by Deed Number and Name: AUC 1-4710 (gap 2100-2999); HWB 1-514; TAR 4-36; WLN 3-1427; MAR 1-368; NEL 1-539; WES 1-120; CAN 1-1207; OTG 1-5. Others are group listed: Taranaki 2-789; Canterbury 641-1340; Otago/Southland 3-1854. The indexes list some deeds that are not held by Archives.
Aperture card copies of many records for the Auckland region are held in the Auckland office. Some other records also exist and are listed on Archway, some under ‘Native Land Purchase’ or ‘Māori Land Purchase’.
Land taken under the Public Works Act was usually taken by means of a Proclamation. Proclamations consist of a notice published in the New Zealand Gazette and an attached plan.
Proclamations are held by LINZ.
Archives New Zealand may hold the plan referenced in the Gazette notice within the Public Works Department plan collections.
Crown Grants were the original means of moving land ownership from the Crown to an individual. The system of Crown Grants was largely replaced by the issuing of Warrants from 1880, which was in turn largely replaced by the issuing of Section 116 Certificates from 1952. In special circumstances Warrants and Crown Grants can be issued even today.
Crown Grants were originally prepared in the Colonial Secretary’s Office with the Surveyor General. A copy of each grant was kept by the Colonial Secretary (separate volumes for Town, Suburban and Country lands). Later, further series were made for other classes of grants. These records were handed to the General Crown Lands Office when it was set up in 1858.
The Crown Lands Office prepared and issued Crown Grants until 1892 when the office was incorporated into the Department of Lands and Survey.
A copy of every Grant issued was kept by the Crown Lands Office and its successors. They constitute the only complete set of Crown Grants issued with any amendments or cancellations noted 1842-1961.
A Crown Grant is searched for through Alphabetical Indexes 1842-1920 [ABWN 8092] held in the main Register Room. The volumes cover provincial regions.
There are also Crown Grants Sectional Indexes 1856-c1899 [ABWN 8096 W5274/547-560] The volumes cover provincial regions.
The alphabetical and sectional indexes are both available online.
The Land & Deeds District Office set of Crown Grant Record Books 1852-1914 is accessed from the Deeds Indexes [AFIH 22394 W5691/39-99 & 392] in the LINZ Register Room (see page 1).
The Lands & Survey Wellington District Office set of Crown Grant Registers, 1850-1914 is accessible from the Wellington Land District Roll Plans, 1840-1977 [AFIH 22381 W5692/1-124] (see below).
These recorded proof that a Crown Grant had been issued by Lands & Survey and an appropriate fee paid.
These indexes provide access by name of Grantee to the Lands & Survey, Wellington Land District, Crown Grant Registers – [AFIH 22359 W5687/18-56]
Prior to 1856 the original Crown Grant was handed to the Grantee and signed for in a register. The register in this series recorded details of these early Crown Grants in the Wellington Land District. Brief details of each Grant are given along with a small sketch map of the land. These were only a Temporary Grant. The final Crown Grant is the Lands & Survey copy [AFIH 22359] with the same number as the Temporary Grant.
The first volume contains an index (by Registration District) to other registers. The grant number is the Lands & Survey Crown Grant. [AFIH 22359]
These record Māori Crown Grants in the Wellington Land District. Entries are similar to Crown Grant Registers.
and are copies of original Grant documents. The index lists only the first name, but often more than one name is entered for a block in the Register.
Warrants are authorities for issue of titles under the Land Transfer Act 1870. From 14 August 1880 they replaced the Crown Grant process and they may still be issued in special circumstances.
Warrants were issued as pages containing several entitlement authorities. These individual pages were subsequently bound to form the volumes for the Wellington Land District. Two copies were produced for Lands & Survey 1880-1960 [ADXS 19578 LS-W 75/1-11] and for Land & Deeds (above).
References to these Warrant Books can be found in:
Some volumes contain an index. Alphabetical Registers to Warrant Books 1880-1918 [ABWN 8094 W5274/77-91] organised by Province, also provide access to Warrants by name of owner. After 1918, the Land District and date are needed to find a Warrant.
Details of a Warrant can be found on the Certificate of Title itself, held by the appropriate office of LINZ.
The Warrant System was followed by the system of issuing Section 116 Certificates, from 1952. The original certificates are held by LINZ but their set is incomplete. The set held at Archives New Zealand is a duplicate. These records are arranged sequentially by number and can be accessed from a citation on a Certificate of Title document.
These may be loose-leaf or bound volumes. The loose- leaf volumes 1-13 are at Recall Wellington (contact LINZ). The bound volumes 14-24 are at Archives New Zealand in Wellington. [AFIH 22488 W5687/172-182]
Provisional Titles were first provided for by Section 8 of the Land Transfer Amendment Act 1871. They are now issued under Section 50 of the Land Transfer Act 1952.
Provisional Titles recorded land alienation from the Crown during the period between authorisation of the disposal and the issue of a Crown Grant or Warrant. This document preparation and execution process could span many months. The delay may have been while awaiting survey of the land.
Certificates signed by the Commissioner of Crown Lands were placed in the `Provisional Register’ folder at the Land Registry. When the relevant Crown Grant or Warrant was registered, a Certificate of Title was issued, all memorials on the Provisional Title were recorded on the Land Transfer Title, and the Provisional Title was cancelled.
References to these Registers can be found in:
The original record of land alienation by the Crown. The books are organised alphabetically by district and record the acquisition of land and its subsequent disposal.
Allotment books refer to a variety of further records including the Crown Lands Register (see below), Lands & Survey Crown Grants. [AFIH 22359 W5687/18-56]
Provisional Title Registers (see above) and New Zealand Gazette notices. Allotment books also record the issue of a Certificate of Title, especially if the Crown leased the land.
Two groups of Allotment Books are held, from the Wellington office of Lands & Survey. [AAMI 6292/1-11] ; [ADXS 19507) LS-W 18/1-18]. Though the entries are by district, the books seem to be in no set order either chronologically or geographically. On being surveyed, blocks of land were entered in the books and subsequently details of the sale or lease. The amount of information in each book varies. Reserves – recreation. Railways and education – are recorded, and allotments for forestry, dairy co-operatives and local bodies.
These large format plans, created by Lands & Survey, draw upon several major plan sequences including Deposited Plans (DP), Māori Land Plans (ML) and Survey Office Plans (SO). Roll plans often include references to these plans and may note early Crown Grants, subdivisions, and applications for Crown Land.
Roll Plans are listed on Archway, and may be found through the name of an area or by SO plan number searches. Additional information may be found in:
Many Roll Plans show various sections within the area depicted. This is a way to find the section number for a property if the location of the property is known, but not the legal description (appellation).
Photographed plans on Aperture Cards:
Copies of these plans can also be obtained from LINZ.
The earliest Wellington Survey Office plans were stored in drawers and numbered sequentially with references such as `1/23’ equating to drawer 1 plan number 23. Such references are found on older Deposited Plans (DP) or Māori Land plans (ML). These old plans were later given a Survey Office (SO) Plan number – a straight numerical sequence. This book allows cross referencing of old Survey plans which have been renumbered.
For each Māori Block, the relevant Māori Land Plan (ML) number is given and a plan number for each partition of it.
Each District Land Office maintained a register of land held or acquired by the Crown. These consist of three series of cards organised by:
Each card gives brief details of the land block and date of acquisition.
There is a huge variety of information in the Roll Plans held. They range from fairly general block and regional maps, such as the map on the previous page for the northern Wairarapa Seventy Mile Bush (1876) – [AFIH 22381 W5692/68 SO 11173 RP506], to finely detailed plans of settlement, such as that for Apiti below (late 19th Century), [AFIH 22381 W5692/2 SO 10164 RP5] which includes settlers’ names. Both the images are parts of larger maps.
Many records from Lands & Survey Wellington complement the deeds registration records.
These registers record Applications to Purchase Crown Land, made to the Lands & Survey Office in Wellington. The actual application files are bound into Volumes – [LS-W15]
References to these applications can be found in Roll Plans and in:
Reports into Land Claims made by individuals for Land originally bought from the New Zealand Company. A card index in the Wellington Reading Room provides access to these reports.
Successful claims resulted in a Crown Grant for the land in question. These Grants will be entered in Crown Grants (Wellington Lands & Survey set). [AFIH 22359 W5687/18-56]
These reports may include references to any sale or division of land between the time of the original purchase from the New Zealand Company and the findings of the Commissioner’s report into the purchase.
Original documentation relating to these claims is also available. Use of the claim number is required to access this collection. [ADXS 19552 LS-W 62]
Original applications for recognition by the Land Claims Commissioner of purchases of land from the New Zealand Company. Access is via the BIO 1 card index in the Wellington reading room or from the reports of the Commissioner. [LS-W 68]
This register details transfers of land and applications for Crown Land. There is an index by name at the front of the Volume and the references found here can relate to Applications for Crown Land [LS-W16], and Deeds Registers [AFIH 22395].
The New Zealand Company was formed in 1839 to put into practice Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s theories of systematic colonisation through settlements in New Zealand. The Company began purchasing land at Port Nicholson in later 1839 and at Whanganui in 1841.
After the Company failed in 1850 its colonial responsibilities were taken over by the Governor and many NZ Company land records became part of the NZ government records.
NZ Company records are listed on Archway. Some of the series relating to land purchase in the Wellington region by the New Zealand Company are:
Maps of Wellington are held with section numbers which correspond to entries in the NZC33 register – [AAFV 997/132-133] and below.
The Wellington office of Archives New Zealand holds historic Deeds Registration records for land in the Taranaki Land District. These records are organised along similar lines to the Wellington Deeds records addressed earlier in this guide.
This register (held in the LINZ Register Room) has the same purpose as the Wellington Land District Wall Chart. Use this volume to determine which Deeds Index volume documents a section within the Taranaki Land District.
Deeds Index volumes (held in the LINZ Register Room) record all the registered transactions for a piece of land, on a dedicated page within the index.
Digitised versions of these indexes are available online via Archway.
The index number of each volume is prefaced with the letter “I” to distinguish from the physically similar Primary Entry Books.
Each page in a Deeds Index details the documents that were filed, including the document (instrument) type and number, date of registration, date of the document and where it is recorded and transcribed.
The record may be in a:
The Primary Entry Books are arranged by Instrument Number and state both the type of document and the parties to it. They refer (usually as book and page number) to where the document was recorded, for example, in a:
These volumes are in the LINZ Register room. Digitised versions are available online via Archway.
The Primary Entry Books also provide a reference to the Deeds Indexes – [BAPP 23516 W5750/12-25], which show all dealings for a particular piece of land.
Instrument numbers can be found by searching for an owner’s name in the Nominal Indexes to Deeds – [BAPP 23517/27-28] and Nominal Index to Powers of Attorney, Probate and Memorials – [BAPP 23531/29] (see below).
Nominal Indexes are an alphabetical list of people who had an interest in a piece of land. Each name entry provides an instrument (document) number which leads to the Primary Entry Books (see above).
The alphabetical / nominal indexes were compiled as people registered documents into the Deeds system, so the names are in approximate date order. There is some overlap between indexes so researchers should check all three indexes. It is likely the indexes are incomplete in the later 19th Century.
The original volumes are in the LINZ Register Room and digital copies are available via Archway.
The Nominal Indexes to Deeds [BAPP 23517/27-28] also record the types of instrument documented in this volume. The original volume is in the LINZ Register Room and a digital copy is available via Archway.
As each Deed was registered, an entry was made in a Deeds Register. The entry included a full transcript of the transaction, the instrument number, type of document, date registered, parties involved, a plan of the affected land and references to the relevant Deeds Indexes.
These registers are not held in the LINZ Register Room and will need to be ordered via Archway.
The Land & Deeds District Office set of Crown Grant Record Books, 1856-1872 is accessed from the Deeds Indexes – [BAPP 23516 W5750/12-25] in the LINZ Register Room (see above).
Warrants are authorities for issue of titles under the Land Transfer Act 1870. From 14 August 1880 they replace the Crown Grant process and they may still be issued in special circumstances.
References to these Warrant Books can be found in:
Few early Deeds Registration records exist for the Hawkes Bay Land District because of the destruction following the Hawkes Bay earthquake in 1931.
Prior to the earthquake, the Napier Lands Registry office maintained Deeds Registration records comparable to those for the Wellington and Taranaki land districts. After the destruction of records, mainly through fire, a major project was required to reconstitute the legal record of land ownership for the district. When ownership was determined, a Certificate of Title was issued for the land in question, even if the land had been previously registered in the Deeds system.
Many of the Hawkes Bay Land District records held at Archives New Zealand relate to these efforts to reconstruct the legal record after the 1931 earthquake.
The second volume here is a direct copy of the first. This index gives access to the Allotment Books – [AFIH 22433]. It does not lead to Crown Grant documents, but serves as an index to those who received Crown Grants. To view Crown Grant documents from the Hawkes Bay Land District, use the National Set of Crown Grants – [ABWN 8090]
These volumes are organised sequentially by district and cover the granting of lands by the Crown. These volumes record land granted to private individuals and also land disposed of for public purposes, such as railways and reserves.
Due to the destruction of the indexes to this collection it is recommended that researchers use the National Set of Crown Grants – [ABWN 8090] to access Crown Grant documents from the Hawkes Bay Land District.
Warrants are authorities for issue of titles under the Land Transfer Act 1870. From 14 August 1880 they replaced the Crown Grants and may still be issued in special circumstances.
Warrants were issued as pages containing several different authorities. These individual pages were subsequently bound to form the volumes for the Hawkes Bay Land District.
References to these Warrant Books can be found in:
Provisional titles were issued for land previously held by the Crown or Māori. References to Provisional Titles can be found as a `Previous Registration’ on Certificates of Title. Land which was subject to a Provisional title was also commonly subject to a Warrant or Section 116 certificate (see Crown Grants section of this guide). This collection covers the years 1928-1958.
The entries in this volume were compiled 1931-1952 from New Zealand Gazette notices and from records of the Department of Lands and Survey. An alphabetical index gives access to the entries for each reserve. A digital copy of this record is available via Archway.
This alphabetical index records details of persons leasing Crown Land 1887-1905. This volume is indexed by the name of the leaseholder.
This volume details successful and unsuccessful applications for Crown Land from 1931 to 1949. An alphabetical index at the beginning of the volume gives access to the individual entries.
Each District Land Office maintained a register of land held by the Crown. This card index covers the Hawkes Bay Land District 1960-1996. Details of persons leasing land from the Crown are also noted on these cards.
These binders record details of the partition of Māori blocks and are drawn from a variety of sources including Māori Land Court Minute Books and the New Zealand Gazette. Partition Orders and plans are often included.
Each binder in this collection is organised alphabetically. While the binders date from the 1970s, much of the information within is sourced from earlier records.
This volume records Māori Blocks in alphabetical order. Unlike the Māori Block Registers [AFIH 22446], this volume records plan numbers relevant to each block.
Several series of index volumes addressed in this guide have been digitally copied and are available online via our electronic finding aid Archway.
Contact Archives New Zealand, Wellington office if assistance is required with the online versions of these digitised records.
The main collections held at the Wellington office of Archives New Zealand that are available online are:
Deeds Index records relating to other Land Districts have also been made available online. The original records are held at the Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin offices’ of Archives New Zealand.
Please contact either the appropriate regional office or the Wellington office of Archives New Zealand if assistance is required in accessing or interpreting the online versions of these records.