Limitations on Titles (March 2015)

The most common limitation on a land title is ‘limited as to parcels’ 

The system of registration of title to land in New Zealand is known as the Torrens system or the land transfer system.  A parcel of land under the land transfer system has an individual title setting out the registered proprietor, property description, nature of the estate (eg, fee simple, leasehold), and any restrictions, encumbrances, mortgages and other interests.  One such restriction is ‘limited as to parcels’.

Titles are based on survey plans, which are the record of ground marking (the 'monumentation' of the boundaries).  Survey plans are carried out by Licensed Cadastral Surveyors.  Unless the titles are 'limited as to parcels', the Crown guarantees the area and dimensions on the title.

All titles to land under this system (excluding Maori Land and Crown Land) are guaranteed to some extent by the government.  This title registration system forms the backbone of our economy and enables banks and others to comfortably lend against a Certificate of Title (also known as a computer freehold registry now). The words ‘limited as to parcels’ are a warning to anyone owning, investing in or dealing with any type of application for resource consent to beware – the boundaries or area referred to on the Title may contain some inaccuracies.

Titles that are ‘limited as to parcels’ are still ‘guaranteed’ titles but there is some doubt as to the measurement – that is not guaranteed.  There are a number of reasons that this has come about.  The local land records may have been destroyed in a natural disaster or a proper legal survey, up to the government standard of the time, may never have been carried out.  Perhaps there was an error in the original survey or that survey was never finished, leading the Surveyor General to have no faith in the dimensions or areas shown on the documents.

Often the boundaries do not change hugely from the title dimensions so there is no reason to panic if you find yourself owning such a title.

In order to define the boundaries correctly and remove the limitations a survey has to be undertaken by a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor.  He or she will carry out a detailed survey of your land along with any other adjoining land that may also be ‘limited as to parcels’.  This survey will investigate the survey plans in the locality and survey the position of all relevant features including buildings and fences.  Once completed they will come to a conclusion as to the legal boundaries of your tile.  They will have to take account of any long term occupation of land in the vicinity, as relevant under the legislation at the time that the title was issued.  This survey, which must be approved by Land Information NZ, is necessary before any modern survey pegs can be positioned on your boundaries.

Whenever building or developing land you should investigate the status of your title and, if you have any reservations, contact a professional surveying company experienced in this work for advice.

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Coromandel, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 0800 268 632 or email


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