An Analysis of the Cadastral Systems Essay

There is no prescribed organisational structure to these states, and land administration is a state government responsibility (Dalrymple, Williamson, & Wallace, 2003). The South Australia Act was passed in 1834, allowing the Crown to establish one or more colonies in the south-west of what was then New South Wales; however it wasn’t until 1836 that Australia became a political entity of Britain (Painter, 2012). Not long after, New Zealand became a British colony through the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which proclaimed British Sovereignty over the land.

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The cadastres in New Zealand and Australia serve a similar primary function of issuing and tranfering title to land, as well as the registration of any interests relating to land (Cadastral Template, 2003). Having both developed from similar roots many similarities exist between the cadastral systems of New Zealand and South Australia, but as the individual countries have matured over years, and changes have occurred within Australia, so to have differences developed between the cadastral systems.

This essay seeks to analyse the differences and similarities that exist between the cadastral systems of New Zealand and South Australia. As both New Zealand and South Australia were settled by the British they both adopted a deeds registration system as their initial method of registering rights in land. The Deeds Registration System was based upon the common law rule that “No man could confer better title then he had” (Hinde, 1971). It was an expensive, time consuming, and complex system that required deeds to be registered, so that title could be derived.

Due to the law that allowed only equal title to be passed on, should a previous deed be invalid for whatever reason, all subsequent dealings were also made invalid. In the mid 1850’s Robert Torrens, the Registrar-General of Deeds, introduced his system of land transfer to South Australia, which simplified the flawed system, and provided better security of title (Weir, 2007). The Torrens system was introduced into legal statute through the passing of the Real Property Act 1858 (SA). The other states followed suit, adopting this improved system, by passing of their own acts, as did New Zealand, when it passed the Land Transfer Act 1870.

The most important principle of this new system was that registration provides title, and upon registration a registered owner of a fee simple title is granted an indefeasible title, providing the transfer was bona fide (Hinde, 1971). Whilst one of the purposes of the Real Property Act 1858 and the Land Transfer Act 1870 was to abolish the Deeds system, some small amounts of land owned under Deed exist in New Zealand and South Australia, these parcels are usually limited as to parcels or title, and in South Australia the refer to this as the “Old System”.

A majorhisorical difference between the developments of the cadastral systems in New Zealand and South Australia are the considerations given to native or aboriginal title. When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in1840 Maori ownership of their land and properties was recognised. As a acknowledgment of Maoris relationship with the land, customary rights were provided for in the Treaty, which was later converted into Maori Freehold title through the Maori Land Court.

However when Australia was settled the land was considered terra nullis and so soverigenty was proclaimed for the Crown, with no consideration given for the aboriginies. It was not until the passing of the Indigenous Natives Act in 1993 that any legal consideration was given to and aborigninal land rights. The Cadastral Survey Act 2002 and the Survey Act 2002 are similar pieces of legislation created by New Zealand and South Australia repectively. They are both concerned with promoting and maintaining the accuracy of the cadastre through the liscencing and registration of surveyors, and the the setting of standards.

Both of these Acts require a Surveyor-General to be appointed as a statutory officer to oversee the cadastre, and this position is responsible for the spatial integrity of the cadastre (ICSM, 2011). The Cadastal Survey Act also setouts the functions of Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), of which the Surveyor-General is a component, as well as detailing his other major role, to set the standards which cadstral surverys must abide by. In South Australia however, this later role is undertaken by the Minister for Infrastructure under legislation which has been administered by the Surveyor-General (ICSM, 2011).

The integrity of the cadastre is checked through the auditing of lodged plans by liscenced or registered surveyors. In New Zealand this is a function of the Surveyor-General, delegated to a group within LINZ. South Australia operates a slightly different system however with the Surveyor-General responsible for field audits whilst the Register-General is responsible for office audits (ICSM, 2011). Before any plan is registered it is subject to a quality check but there is some variation to the method which this is done.

In New Zealand there is both an automatic checking system, as part of LINZ’s validation process, as well as a manual check list for items to difficult to automate (ICSM, 2011). South Australia utilises a two tier system, with checks being made on items deemed critical for issuing title or retaining the integrity of the cadastre. A complete check is made on the critical items on Non Endoresed Plans (relating to the old system) and 7% of Endorsed Plans, with the remaining plans receiving a basic check (ICSM, 2011).

Another way through which the reliability of the cadastre is maintained is that all practising cadastral surveyors in New Zealand and South Australia are required to be liscened. In New Zealand liscencing is the responsibility of the Cadastral Surveyors Liscencing Board, with the most common method of gaining a liscence achieved by passing the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS) examinations associated with the cadastral component of their membership (CSLB, 2012).

In South Australia this is the responsibility of the Surveyors Board of South Australia who conduct their own examinations, and this board also provides the option to become a registered surveyor for non cadastral work too (ICSM, 2011). Licenced surveyors are the only people who can legally sign a cadastral survey, although the do not have completed all the work themselves. In New Zealand there is no restriction on who can do the wor,k or the level of supervision required.

In South Australia however, it is expected that graduates will receive adequate supervision from a licenced cadastral surveyor until they are competent, and those who have no relevant training should always be supervised (ICSM, 2011). Although there is no specification for supervision in New Zealand it is common practice for a similar approach to South Australia to be taken, as the liscenced surveyor is responsible for everything that they sign until they are no longer liscenced or have deceased, and so they will want to be sure everything is being done correctly.

New Zealand and Australia both maintain an integrated cadastral system. In New Zealand there is a single registry known as Landonline that combines the spatial and textual components associated with the cadastre. The Digital Cadastral Database (DCDB) plays an vital role to surveyors and other land professionals in New Zealand, as it serves as a index of all lodged survey data, has a spatial view of parcels, determines the extents of electoral boundaries, and aids in the validation of lodged surveyed (ICSM, 2011).

Survey data for approximately 70% of the parcels in the country have been captured from existing survey plans to improve the quality of the existing DCDB. Points that meet the accuracy requirements are given Survey-accurate Digital Cadastre (SDC) status, which is used to validate new surveys, as well as being a vital tool for surveyors as it assures them of the data accuracy, and simplifies boundary definition. (Haanen & Sutherland, 2002). The cadastre in New Zealand is not a legally coordinate cadastre, but can be considered to be a geodetic cadastre.

This is due to the strong connection between the cadastral network and the geodetic network. Whenever the geodetic control marks are readjusted following resurvey, deformation, or addition of new or more accurate survey data, readjustment is required to the cadastre too as it connects to this dynamic network (LINZ, 2009). The integrated cadastre in South Australia is split into two separate components, a textual component compromising of legal and fisical information, and a spatial coponent which contains the DCDB and boundaries of the land parcels.

These two compnents are linked by unique identifiers associated with parcels, points, boundaries, and polygons (Toms, Williiamson, & Grant, 1988). The South Australian DCDB is purely a spatial index and used for a mapping tool. The DCDB does not contain the quality of survey accurate data that New Zealands does, as only around 19% of parcels have surveyed dimensions that can be captured into the dataset (ICSM, 2011).

The South Australian cadastre has been undergoing reform, as the cadastral system in Australia consisted of isolated surveys, which were not all on the same referenced to the same network, and effort is being made to coordinate these into a combined dataset. South Australia, by working from the part to the whole (the opposite of the traditional survey concept) is moving to adopt a fully coordinated cadastre that is survey accurate (Cadastral Template, 2003). One of the fundamental elements of a modern cadastre is that all information in the cadastre should be public (Toms, Williiamson, & Grant, 1988).

In New Zealand the DCDB is not directly accessible by the public, as users have to have a licence to access Landonline, although there is some provision of data to third parties by Land Information New Zeland. Public generally have to go through a licenced surveyor or solicitor in order to get access to data in the cadastre. South Australia has a slightly better provision for the public, enabling a ‘view only’ version of the cadastre available (ICSM, 2011).

It is important to not grant full access however, to prevent any unlicenced users from tampering with the cadastre and ruining its integrity. As Australia and New Zealand are very closely related countries it is not unexpected that the cadastral systems present within each nation are quite similar, especially both cadastres serve the same purpose of recording the transfer of land ownership and registering rights in land. The roots of their cadastral systems are traceable right back to the common law inherited rom Britain which has been the foundation for all legal matters in the two countries. However being separate countries, and South Australia having its own jurisdiction over its cadaster, variations do exist as the cadastres have evolved to meet the requirements of the country or state. The major differences existing between the cadastral is the integrated digital cadastre that is present in New Zealand, whilst it is still separated in South Australia, and the levels that the DCDB’s vary between the places.

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