LAW 301 - Land Law

Credit points: 20 points
Offered: Full-year
Contact hours: Lectures - 2 hours per week, 8 tutorials - 1 hour per fortnight
Course Director: Katherine Sanders (S1) / Professor David Grinlinton (S2)
Prerequisites: LAW 201, 211, 231, 241

Course description

This course examines the legal principles relating to real property in New Zealand. The main topics covered include: the nature of title to land, estates and interests in land, the physical extent of a landowner’s rights, the effects of registration and indefeasibility of title, concurrent ownership, leases, methods of ownership of flats and offices, easements and profits a préndre, covenants, the use of land as security, and Māori land issues including an introduction to tikanga Māori concepts and customary title claims.

Content outline

The course commences with an examination of the nature of real property rights and interests in land, including the historical development of land law and the concept of estates and interests in land. It also explores fundamental principles of New Zealand land law including a comparison of legal and equitable interests in land, the doctrine of tenure, the physical extent of a landholder’s rights in her or his land, and the concept of title in New Zealand.

We will cover in some detail the Torrens system of registration of title to land. A principal focus of our discussions will be how the law deals with competition between interests in land. Concurrent ownership is considered in the context of acquisition, exercise and disposition of estates and interests in land. An examination of leasehold estates and an examination of methods of flat and office ownership explores further the concepts of estates in land and equitable interests. Rights or interests in the land of another will also be considered, including easements, covenants and mortgages.

As part of the course the key concepts of tikanga (Māori custom), how these concepts relate to land law in New Zealand, and the impacts of colonisation are explored. The course examines the application of Māori customary title, the Te Ture Whenua Māori 1993 (Māori Land Act 1993), and recent legislative developments in the area of Māori land law.


Final Examination (60%), Mid-year Test (25%), Tutorial Essay (10%), Tutorial Attendance (5%).

Both the test and the final exam are open book. This means that you may, if you wish, bring into the test and exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Procedures are in place for exceptional cases where students need to attend an alternative tutorial (for example, for medical reasons). The procedure will be outlined in the 2018 handbook.

Recommended text

The recommended texts for the course are:

G W Hinde, D W McMorland, N R Campbell, P Twist, T N Gibbons, S Scott and J L Foster Principles of Real Property Law, (2nd ed. 2014, LexisNexis, Wellington); and

E Toomey (ed.) New Zealand Land Law (3rd ed. 2017, Brookers, Wellington).

You should purchase or download the statutes below for the course. A compilation of the relevant statutes will be available for purchase at the University Bookshop. If you choose to compile your own legislation please ensure you have the latest reprint and any amendments.

  • Land Transfer Act 1952
  • Land Transfer Act 2017
  • Property Law Act 2007
  • Unit Titles Act 2010

More information about the recommended texts will be given in class and on CANVAS.