I own a section in a small rural town in New Zealand. The boundaries of it are well known as I did a redefinition survey to find them out. Let's call this land A.
Historically, land A has had a piece of local authority land attached to it as the fence was erected far too over the legal property boundary of A. Let's call this adjoining local authority land B.
Previous owners used to graze sheep on the whole fenced area (A+B) and both the local community and authorities were fine with it. To be clear, neither the previous owners nor I have had any lease (or whatever) agreement to occupy B — it simply has been a de facto status quo.
Now B has grown gorse on it. I have been approached by the authorities with basically two options:
- To continue to be regarded as "occupier" of B and therefore take responsibility for issues occurring on it e.g. controlling/removing gorse;
- To say that I have no use of B so that they care of the gorse the way they want. Specifically, they would spray it.
The main concern with the 2nd option is that the chemicals used for spraying would be washed out on A because B is higher up the hill. I am therefore keen to keep occupying B and control it the way I want e.g. mow it or plant a food forest. And here comes the question:
Is there any way I could legally fix my free occupation of B so that I could protect it from trespassing? Say if I were to grow fruits on it, I would need to be entitled to say "no" to any people who would want to go there and pick/"steal" fruits. Currently I cannot do this as my rights for land B are not legally formed in any way.