Public Works Act 1981

If you need more information about this Act, please contact the administering agency: Land Information New Zealand and Ministry for Primary Industries

Version as at 1 September 2022

Coat of Arms of New Zealand

Public Works Act 1981

Public Act
1981 No 35
Date of assent
3 October 1981
see section 1(2)

The Parliamentary Counsel Office has made editorial and format changes to this version using the powers under subpart 2 of Part 3 of the Legislation Act 2019.

Note 4 at the end of this version provides a list of the amendments included in it.

This Act is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (Part 19) and Land Information New Zealand.


1Short Title and commencement
2ATransitional, savings, and related provisions
3Power to declare specific public work to be essential work [Repealed]
4Service and content of notices
4APowers of Minister of Lands
4BExecution of contracts for public works, etc
4CDelegation of Minister’s powers
5Ministry of Works and Development [Repealed]
6Functions of Ministry [Repealed]
7Powers of Minister [Repealed]
8Other powers and functions not affected [Repealed]
9Execution of contracts for Government works, etc [Repealed]
10Annual report [Repealed]
11Committees [Repealed]
12Commissioner of Works and Assistant Commissioners of Works [Repealed]
13Other officers and employees of Ministry [Repealed]
14Delegation of Minister’s powers [Repealed]
15Delegation of powers by Commissioner of Works [Repealed]
16Empowering acquisition of land
17Acquisition by agreement
18Prior negotiations required for acquisition of land for essential works
19Compensation certificate may be registered to protect agreement
20Declaration may give effect to agreement
21Land may be purchased or improved for granting as compensation
22Only land required for essential works may be compulsorily taken [Repealed]
23Notice of intention to take land
24Objection to be heard by Environment Court
25Environment Judge may conduct inquiry alone by agreement
26When Proclamation may issue
27Natural material on land may be acquired or taken for public work
27ATransfer of land taken for construction of eligible infrastructure
28Particular estates in land may be acquired or taken
29Acquisition of certain public land
30Subsisting licence may be acquired or taken for public work
31Surface, subsoil, or air space may be acquired separately
32Survey and plan not required in certain cases
33Protective fences to be made before boundary fences removed
34Owner may require severed land to be taken
35Acquisition or taking of land not to operate as merger of interests
36Procedures for defining middle line [Repealed]
36ATransitional procedures for defining middle line
37Land affected by middle line notice may be taken by Proclamation [Repealed]
38Middle line notice to lapse after certain period [Repealed]
39Registration of middle line notice may be cancelled [Repealed]
40Disposal to former owner of land not required for public work
41Disposal of former Maori land when no longer required
42Disposal in other cases of land not required for public work
42ASolatium payment for loss of opportunity to purchase
42BNotice of right to apply for solatium payment
43Land may be sold on deferred payments
44Application of purchase money
45Land held for public work may be leased, etc
46Sale and removal of timber and coal from land held for public work
47Issue of record of title to land held for public work
48Easement may be granted over land held for public work
49Dealing with strata
50Transfer of existing public works
51Prohibiting acquisition of rights by adverse user of land held for public work
52Setting apart Crown land, public reserve, etc, for public work
53Proclamations and declarations not to take effect until gazetted
54Revocation of Proclamation or declaration taking land
55Amending or revoking documents
56Minor misdescription not to invalidate documents
57Plan and Proclamation or declaration to be registered
58Proclamation or declaration not registrable to be lodged with Chief Surveyor
60Basic entitlement to compensation
61Exceptions to right to compensation
62Assessment of compensation
63Compensation for injurious affection where no land taken
64Compensation for injurious affection to be assessed by reference to whole work
65Compensation for land for which no general demand exists
66Disturbance payments
67Compensation for loss on repayment of mortgage
68Compensation for business loss
69Offer of compensation when entry made
70Offer of compensation when land taken
71Claimant’s acts making execution of work more costly
72Additional compensation for acquisition of notified dwelling
72AAmount of compensation to be paid under section 72
72BDefinitions of terms used in sections 72C and 72D
72CAdditional compensation for acquisition of notified land
72DCircumstances in which compensation must not be paid under section 72C
72EAdjustment of compensation payable under section 72 or 72C
73Assistance to purchase dwelling
74Assistance to purchase farm, commercial, or industrial property
75Compensation for tenants of residential and business premises
76Refund of expenses where acquisition of land abandoned
77By whom compensation may be claimed
78Limitation of time for claiming compensation
79Minister or local authority may take proceedings to determine compensation if person entitled fails to make claim
80Accelerating hearing of compensation claims
81Public Trust may be ordered to represent infants, absentee owners, etc
82Particulars to be inserted in claim
83Serving of claims
84Filing claims in District Court
85Tribunal may require claimant or respondent to state particulars
86Third party notice
87Amendment of claim
88Award to be in writing
89Separate sums to be awarded for items of claim
90Costs in claims for compensation
91Costs may be deducted from compensation awarded
92Costs in claims beyond jurisdiction of Land Valuation Tribunal
93Costs in claims withdrawn or abandoned
94Interest on compensation money
95Finality of award and enforcement
96When title doubtful compensation, etc, to be paid to Public Trust
97Compensation in case of limited interests, etc
98Public Trust may invest compensation money
99Mortgaged land
100Land subject to rent charge
101Land on which rent payable
102Funds from which compensation to be paid
103Minister or local authority may grant easements, etc, in lieu of compensation
104Tribunal may award easements as compensation
105Granting of land as compensation where equivalent land not readily available
106Granting of land as compensation in other cases
107Provisions relating to grants of land in exchange
107AGrant of lease or licence as compensation
108Execution of certificates
109Execution of certificates on behalf of local authority
110Powers of entry for certain survey purposes
111Powers of entry for other survey and investigation purposes
111APowers of entry for survey and investigation purposes other than by Minister or local authority
112Offence to destroy survey marks
114Declaring land to be road
115Certificate of consent may be registered
116Stopping roads
117Dealing with stopped roads
118Application of other Acts to stopped roads
119Taking severances
121Interpretation [Repealed]
122Certain roads vested in Crown [Repealed]
123Provisions relating to construction of motorways to apply to roads constructed pursuant to middle line [Repealed]
124Minister may make roads and declare Government or district roads [Repealed]
125Roads in areas where no territorial authority exists, etc [Repealed]
126Powers of Minister over roads under his control [Repealed]
127Powers of Minister in regard to swing gates and cattlestops on roads [Repealed]
128Owner or occupier of land not to cause damage to bridge by removal of stone, etc [Repealed]
129Penalties for damage to roads, bridges, etc [Repealed]
130Notice to be given of local authority works [Repealed]
131Poles, etc, on roads to be adjacent to boundaries [Repealed]
132Removal of roadside structures [Repealed]
133Removal of trees, hedges, etc, that obscure visibility or interfere with a public work
134Service of notice
135Emergency work on trees, etc
136Minister may construct access ways and service lanes [Repealed]
137Control and management may be vested in Council [Repealed]
137AInterpretation [Repealed]
138Governor-General may authorise and declare motorways [Repealed]
139Middle line procedures [Repealed]
140Power to make motorways [Repealed]
141Land may be temporarily occupied [Repealed]
142Compensation where road interfered with or wholly closed [Repealed]
143Access to land cut off from road or separated by motorway [Repealed]
144Alterations to roads, drains, etc [Repealed]
145Restrictions on poles, etc, on motorways [Repealed]
146Availability for traffic [Repealed]
147Maintenance and control of motorways [Repealed]
148Restrictions on use of motorways [Repealed]
148AVehicles which may be operated on motorways [Repealed]
148BRestrictions on access to motorways [Repealed]
149Construction of buildings and facilities on, over, under, or adjacent to motorways [Repealed]
150Motorway deemed to be road [Repealed]
151Application of Impounding Act 1955 [Repealed]
152Offences [Repealed]
152AInterpretation [Repealed]
153Creation and revocation of limited access roads [Repealed]
154Provisions of Acts relating to roads to apply to limited access roads [Repealed]
155Access to and from land [Repealed]
156Authorisation of crossing places [Repealed]
157Restricting movement to or from a limited access road [Repealed]
158Limited access road not a road for certain purposes [Repealed]
159Requirements relating to declaration of limited access road [Repealed]
160Certificate of land affected to be forwarded to District Land Registrar [Repealed]
161Administration of limited access roads [Repealed]
162Offences [Repealed]
163Compensation [Repealed]
164Railways to be authorised by Order in Council [Repealed]
165Presumption as to area of Crown land or reserves used for railway, revesting of land not used, etc
166Power to make railways, railway stations, etc
167Rights of way where railway along or across road on level [Repealed]
168Compensation where road interfered with or wholly closed
169Access to land cut off from road or separated by railway
170Alterations to roads, drains, etc
171Agreement as to use of railway bridge for combined traffic [Repealed]
172Right of way on joint railway and common bridges [Repealed]
173Land may be temporarily occupied
174Application of Impounding Act 1955
175Inspection of railways
177General Manager to be appointed for every local railway
178Appointment of Inspector
179Notice of intended opening
180Minister may postpone opening or working of local railway
181Notice to Minister of accidents
182Inquiry as to accidents
183Returns of accidents
184Crown may construct defence works
185Destroying or altering defence works
185AInterpretation [Repealed]
186This Part not to derogate from Town and Country Planning Act 1977 [Repealed]
187Control of use of land in vicinity of essential works [Repealed]
187AControl of use of land transferred to State enterprises [Repealed]
188Removal of trees, buildings, etc, interfering with use of aerodrome [Repealed]
189Minister may direct local authority or airport authority to serve notice under this Part and in default may serve notice on its behalf [Repealed]
190Regulations as to use of lake formed by construction of Government work
191Secondary use of land held for public work
192Compensation under this Part
193Revenue and expenditure under this Part
194Minister to have powers of territorial authority [Repealed]
195Government drains [Repealed]
195AApplication of Part 19 of Public Works Act 1981
197Minister may construct and maintain water supply works
198Minister may appoint territorial authority or catchment board as his agent
199Minister may supply water to any person from water supply works
200Notification of investigation of proposed irrigation scheme
201Report of National Authority on proposed irrigation scheme [Repealed]
202Notification of proposed irrigation scheme
203Poll for proposed irrigation scheme
204Preparation of rolls
206Publication of proposal to take a poll
207When and how poll to be taken
208Constitution of district, etc
208AReduction in size and abolition of irrigation district
209Basic charge
210Adjustment of basic charge [Repealed]
211Water availability charge
212Adjustment of water availability charge [Repealed]
212AAlternative to basic and water availability charges
213Determination of interest
214Liability of occupier for annual charge
215Determination of irrigable area
216Water availability agreements
217Supply of water
218Diminished supply
219Penalty for late payment
220Irrigation notice
221Charge on land
222Application of this Part to existing schemes
223Minister not bound to acquire land
224Government and local authority may combine in works of both national and local importance
225Licences and authorities may be held by the Crown
225AInventions, etc, by employees [Repealed]
226Shares in building-unit companies
227Advances for purchase of plant and equipment
228Authorising Government to construct public works outside New Zealand
229Improvement of farm land
230Minister of Crown may appoint person to sell stores, etc, by auction
231Money due by local authority may be deducted from money payable by Government
232Minister may execute instruments [Repealed]
233Notice of entry to be given
234Emergency entry on land
235Power to alter or divert rivers, etc, for safety or maintenance of public work [Repealed]
236Imposition of building and other restrictions on land held for Government work
237Excavations near public works
238Controlling authority may bring action for damage to public work
239Removal and disposal of abandoned property from public works land
240Recovery of land from persons holding illegal possession
241Obstructing employees
242Offences and penalties
244Amendments to Town and Country Planning Act 1977
245Requirements for certain public works to be removed [Repealed]
246Requirements and designations for certain public works to be removed [Repealed]
247Amendments to other Acts
248Repeals, revocation, and savings
249Transitional provision [Repealed]

An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to public works