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Putting NZ land titles on the blockchain

October 12, 2017
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True story. My mum came to me about 2 months ago and asked “How can I prove that I own my own house?” At that moment, I actually didn’t know. It was a black box that my “lawyer” handles but having heard a lot about land titles and the blockchain I decided to investigate this further.

I called up Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and discovered they had this LINZ Data Service that could be used to find owners of property.  This gives you a proof of property but to get an official document you have to order what’s called a “Certificate of Title“.

This cost $15 and it can be delivered via email or via post. This is not certified however. To have it certified, it must be received by post, then a letter requesting it to be certified included and sent back to LINZ. It costs a further $11. Doesn’t make sense right?

To make a change to the title, a manual lodgement is required. It takes 8-10 working days and $176 and $88 for resubmission. (rejected or requisition)

With all the attention around blockchains, I decided to order a title for my mum, and then put that title on the blockchain. In the video presentation I hadn’t received the certificate of title yet so I just hashed a pretend certificate but the principles are the same.

What I learnt was that putting the file on the blockchain was not that difficult. The challenge lies in everything else. Bringing this to reality will require much more effort and I’ve been told that the system in NZ is actually pretty good compared to other countries. The old adage “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” springs to mind.

It feels like there are particular use cases where this could be useful in NZ but it’s in countries overseas where land registry systems are almost non existent that it seems to benefit the most.