A Waikato farmer's stand-off with Transpower shows just how protective some landowners are
From the meter reader to the armed offenders squad, strangers can enter your property, legally, in many ways.
Waikato farmer Steve Meier's battle with power company Transpower this week exemplifies the defensiveness some New Zealanders feel about their land.
Very few people or organisations can enter your property without permission. Even the Defence Force needs consent to enter, or requisition land for emergency purposes, such as in wartime. Power companies have a statutory right to enter property for maintenance, as long as notice is given.
In emergency situations, the notice can be shortened or not given at all. Standoffs are common, especially in the Waikato where farmers have fought a 10-year battle to be compensated for the pylons straddling their paddocks.
A police officer executing an arrest warrant or who has reasonable suspicion of drugs or firearms offences can enter a property without consent - by force, if necessary. The officer must be in uniform or have his badge.
The Defence Force has the same powers as the police, and must get government permission to cross private boundaries.
There are powers under the Military Manoeuvres Act to enter certain land where the Governor-General has issued a proclamation, but that power has not been used since World War I.
Local councils can turn up unannounced in a number of situations. Officials regularly enter premises to inspect or take custody of dogs, check swimming pool fences, or take environmental samples.
In Tauranga, a city council's foray on to private land met with stiff resistance from one of its own - councillor Hayden Evans.
Mr Evans strongly opposed the council's intention to lay a pipeline across his rural Ohauiti property. Like Mr Meier, Mr Evans had his firearms licence revoked by police and weapons seized because of safety concerns.
He admitted to saying that the council would take the land needed for the pipeline "over my dead body".
Homeowners give the right for meter readers to enter their properties when they sign a contract with an electricity company.
Power companies reported few problems with meter readers getting on to properties, except for one case where a meter in a laundry led to a staff member encountering a tenant exiting the shower.
Power companies are only legally obliged to read your meter once a year, so if faced with a guard dog or a fortress-like fence, may not pursue a reading.
Some meter readers, however, can be quite determined - a Trustpower worker once walked 8km to get a reading at a tourist safari park in Queenstown after refusing to pay the toll for his car at the gate.
Landlords may enter the grounds or facilities without consent, but have to give respect to privacy, peace and comfort of the tenants.
To enter the house or inspect the premises they must give 48 hours' notice.
Repossessors need no permission to enter premises, but must do so within reasonable hours.