Learn more about the Land Acquisition Resolution Service
Frequently asked questions about LARS
What is LARS?
LARS is a mediation service that supports landowners and the Crown to reach agreement on property acquisition.
Who can use LARS?
You can use LARS if you’re a landowner who is impacted by projects that form part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme and your land is being acquired under the Public Works Act 1981.
Are there costs involved?
The mediation process is free for landowners whose property is needed for a project that is part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme. The service is fully funded by Waka Kotahi.
Under section 66 of the Public Works Act 1981 you are entitled to have your reasonable legal and valuation costs paid by the Crown.
Who runs LARS?
LARS is operated by Fair Way who has a panel of independent and skilled mediators.
How does mediation work?
A mediator is like a guide. They help you to navigate the issue and they find a path for you to move forward. As an independent, neutral person, they can support the mediation parties to reach an agreement on their own terms – the mediator will not determine the outcome.
The mediation may take anywhere from a few hours to an entire day, with the mediator speaking with the parties together or separately. If you reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a summary to sign. This agreement is made under section 17 of the Public Works Act 1981 and, as a public record, will not be confidential.
How quickly can I get an agreement?
A case conference is often be arranged within a few days of when you first get in touch. The mediation is then scheduled for a time that suits you and the Crown representatives. The mediation session itself is usually scheduled for a full-day, though it may not take the full time to reach an agreement.
Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need to have a lawyer represent you during mediation. However, you may wish to seek independent legal advice, and lawyers are welcome to participate in the process.
Note: Any additional parties involved in the mediation will be required to sign the agreement to mediate, detailing confidentiality restraints.
Can support people attend?
You can have representatives, lawyers, valuers and support people attend the mediation.
Note: any additional parties involved in the mediation will be required to sign the agreement to mediate, detailing confidentiality restraints.
Can my needs be accommodated?
Yes. LARS is committed to accessibility and meeting diverse needs. This means we can provide support, for example arranging an interpreter or taking a tikanga-based approach to mediation. LARS has a panel of experienced mediators. You can find out about each mediator here.
Can I pick my mediator?
Yes. A full list of independent and accredited LARS mediators is available on the website. All mediators are able to travel, so you can choose the most appropriate person for your needs. Fair Way can also provide assistance to help you though this process.
Can I meet the mediator before the mediation?
Yes. The mediator will speak with each party separately before the mediation to understand the matter and discuss the process going forward.
Where do mediations take place?
Usually, a venue close to the location of the property is selected so you can all meet together for the mediation. If other options need to be considered, such as another location or an online mediation, you can discuss with the mediator or directly with Fair Way.
Background to LARS
What is LARS?
The Land Acquisition Resolution Service (LARS) is an initial two-year pilot mediation programme. Its purpose is to empower landowners to reach agreement with the Crown who are seeking to purchase their land for public works.
Why was LARS created?
Waka Kotahi and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) know it is often stressful for landowners impacted by a transport project. They are jointly trialing an independent mediation service as part of their efforts to improve the property acquisition experience for landowners.
The Land Acquisition Resolution Service is aimed at trying to reach agreement earlier, meaning landowners are put under less stress, get paid more quickly and can move on with their lives sooner.
It is being trialed on the New Zealand Upgrade Programme (NZUP) because its projects require a large number of properties in different parts of New Zealand.
Waka Kotahi and LINZ have engaged Fair Way to independently provide this service.
What is NZUP?
The New Zealand Upgrade Programme (NZUP) investment is providing growing communities across the country with better travel choices that help people get where they’re going safely while supporting the economy. It is a major infrastructure programme that is dependent on purchasing private land from existing home and landowners to deliver transport improvements for the wider community.
What is land acquisition?
When the Government needs a piece of land for a transport project, Waka Kotahi and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) have a process they must follow with landowners. LARS is an option available to landowners at any point during this process.
Waka Kotahi is responsible for managing and delivering individual projects within the NZUP programme.
LINZ, as the Crown’s land administrator, is responsible for acquiring property from private landowners for public works.
Fair Way is the independent operator of LARS. Fair Way supports landowners to participate in the process, empowers them to have meaningful conversations and helps the parties find a way forward together.
Creating the service
What are the founding principles?
LARS was designed and is founded on the Government Centre for Dispute Resolution's best practice principles. These principles have been part of Fair Way’s delivery model for many years and are embedded into the LARS process:
Party focused and accessible
Landowners are at the centre of the LARS process. LARS is free, easy to access and simple to use.
Independent and fair
Fair Way is independent of the Crown and its LARS mediators are neutral. Disputes are managed and resolved in a fair way, in accordance with applicable law and natural justice.
LARS provides value to landowners and the Crown by making it quick and easy to resolve disputes. LARS will continuously improve and evolve based on feedback.
LARS delivers results. It supports the wider government system by helping to minimise conflict and by supporting more productive and harmonious communities.
The public can trust and have confidence in LARS. LARS is transparent and accountable for the quality of its service. Regular monitoring and public reporting encourage ongoing improvement and better outcomes across the system.
You can find out more about the GCDR’s principles here.
How were the panel selected?
The panel of mediators have been carefully selected. Each mediator is fully accredited through the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ), the Resolution Institute or the New Zealand Law Society. They have experience with the Public Works Act 1981, and more importantly they are experienced mediators who can navigate the complexities of disputes in a safe way - so you can trust that they have the right skill and expertise to assist.
To get your case started, or to arrange a time to talk to one of our team, please complete and submit the form below.
One of our friendly Fair Way team will contact you at a time that’s good for you. Alternatively, use our freephone 0800 604 373.