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House and Property Research in Nelson

A guide from Nelson Public Libraries to information held at the Library, Nelson City Council, Nelson Provincial Museum and Land Information New Zealand to help you find the history of your house, or a specific property. This is primarily for historic research, but the information is also useful for newer properties.

Do it yourself

You can do a lot of research at the Library and online at no cost, before going to Land Information New Zealand, Nelson Provincial Museum or your local Council office:

Property Information at Nelson City Council

The Council can provide access to property files, useful resources and other archival information. There may be a charge if you are not the site owner. Contact Nelson City Council.

  • Property Files
    The earliest records held on file begin c1930 and may include:
    - Consents and Permits – Town Planning / Resource and Building (may include geotechnical reports and drainage as-built plans), Swimming Pool
    - Project information memorandum (PIMS)
    - Seismic evaluation reports
    - Airspace leases, liquor licences, fire authentication, road reserve licences and licence to occupy
    - Enforcement notices
    - Correspondence
  • Nelson City Council Heritage Precincts
    A ‘real life’ snapshot of architectural styles through time. Refer to the online precinct. Design Guides for a description of the history, visual characteristics and special nature of each precinct.
  • Digitised Historic Aerial Imagery
    Aerial imagery is periodically captured for the Nelson region and is available in electronic form dating back to 1943. Some aerial maps are available on Top of the South Maps (1940-49 and 1980-89) as an option on the layer list.
  • Cemetery Plot Records Searches
    If you have information about who might have lived in or owned a house, locating and viewing their cemetery plot headstones can be useful. Headstones often provide useful date ranges; may mention who the deceased was related to and in some cases, describe their occupation or contributions to the local community. This sometimes helps to tell the story of the house you’re researching:
    - To spatially locate the plot, use Top of the South Maps website. Search by Surname, pick a name and click on the More Information link (left hand pane) to display the cremation or burial details.
    - Alternatively, you can search for plot location details by surname on the Council's Cemetery search.
  • Council Archives
    Other relevant information may be held in the archives (in Council minutes, early correspondence, subject files, rates books). Your request will need to be very specific to ensure council officer’s target their research appropriately to give you accurate results.

Property information at the Nelson Provincial Museum – Research Facility

The Research facility at Isel Park has material relevant to property research. You must make an appointment and provide information about your research to get the best out of your visit. Information which is only held at the Museum, in the Nelson region, includes:

  • Rating/ valuation rolls
    Easier to use if you know the name of an early occupier/ owner. Obtain DP (deed of purchase) and CT (Certificate of title) numbers from LINZ or Council to ensure you have the correct information regarding subdivision of the original Town Acre section. Some indexing is available
  • Cadastral maps
    These include section numbers and occasionally owner’s names
  • Subject files
    Houses, Nelson, Houses, Nelson Province from Newspaper clippings about historic and old houses in the region
  • Named houses and properties file (generally pre-1930)
  • Photographic collection
    The historic glass plate negative collection is extensive – all of the collection has now been digitised.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)/ Archives New Zealand

Historic land records for the Nelson District are held by Archives New Zealand in Christchurch. LINZ Christchurch holds more recent records.

Archives New Zealand has a guide to locating Land Records (Department of Lands & Survey & Land Titles Office Records) for the region. LINZ also has a guide to historic property research. Many of the property records have been indexed and some also digitised by Archives New Zealand. All of the early provincial Survey Office records have been digitised:

Nelson Land District Roll Plans (23144) c.1841 - unknown range held: 1841 - 1995):
Click onto the "Record hierarchy" to browse all records (blue banded records have been digitised and the maps can be viewed on screen). If the link to a list of all records cannot be seen from this record, access the record for one of the rolls (eg. Wakapuaka). From there open up the Record Hierarchy link and under that you can see and access a list of the individual records for the whole series, and the digitised maps when available.

The following central Nelson maps are available:
SO [Survey Office]. City of Nelson, Crown- Grant Record Map - Sheet No1-4 1860
4. (labelled as 3 in error)

SO [Survey Office]. Native & Public Reserve in the town of Nelson [2 sheets] 1867

Records not digitised, can be ordered online, for a charge, from LINZ or Archives New Zealand.

You can also visit LINZ yourself, but an appointment must be booked in advance.

What you need to start a historic house search at LINZ:

  • Current CT (Certificate of Title number)
  • Current DP (Deposited Plan number)

This will allow a trace on previous CT numbers and a reference to the earlier Deeds Index number (see above re searching Deed information via Archway). Historic CT’s and Deeds record all the leases, mortgages, transfers of land, subdivisions pertaining to a given section and may include owners’ names, and building footprints.
You can also obtain property reports and CTs from QV for a charge.

Employing a researcher

There are some local researchers who will investigate the history of your house, for example:

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