System of Land Ownership in New Zealand and South Africa compared
Land ownership in New Zealand is based on the 'Torrens System' of land registration.
In South Africa land ownership is based on a system of registration of deeds administered by the Registrar of Deeds who is responsible for the national system of deeds offices which, through a juristic foundation and long-standing practices and procedures, has the effect of “guaranteeing” title.
The basic difference between the deeds system and the land transfer (Torrens system) is that the land transfer process is a system of registration of title to land, whereas the deeds system is one of registration of instruments (eg mortgages) from which title to land is derived.
The main purpose of the Torrens' system operating within New Zealand is to provide a simple and cheap method of recording the transfer and other dealings with land, and at the same time to ensure security of title by a system of State guarantee. The Land Transfer system requires a register that contains a duplicate of the owner’s title. The title has all the details of the owner, together with any changes which occur through transfer, death, or other devolution, and the encumbrances to which the land becomes subject.
The major advantage of the system is that anybody dealing with land in New Zealand is saved the effort of investigating back to the root of the title, and is able to rely on the details on the face of the register which is a distinct advantage over the Deeds System in South Africa.
Key points of difference in relation to the process of transferring land in New Zealand