South of the Waitaki River the legal position about property matters is defined in the Otago Foundation Trust Board Act 1992. This situation is different from that prevailing in the rest of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa NZ, as their property matters are governed by a different Act of Parliament.

The basic underlying principle is that all property, land and buildings, are held on trust for the purposes of that congregation of the PCANZ. The Otago Foundation Trust Board is the trustee that holds property titles in its name on behalf of each congregation.

Members of the church council are responsible for the day-to-day management of property. When significant decisions are being made about property, three groups within the church make these decisions – the leadership and members of the congregation, the Presbytery and the Synod. The significant property decisions that require decisions by Presbytery and Synod include purchasing or selling [or otherwise disposing] of any property, sub-dividing or changing land in any way, altering, repairing, upgrading, building or extending a building that costs more than $50,000 excluding GST if registered for GST or $50,000 including GST if not registered for GST, renting the manse or leasing any other property and borrowing of any type over $5,000.

The first contact with the regional church should be with the Synod Executive Officer. He can advise the next steps and provide forms when appropriate for the parish to complete. Generally the process is for the matter to be discussed with representatives of the Joint Synod & Presbytery Mission & Property work group before any formal votes by the Church Council or Congregation have taken place. As a result, matters may need to be further explored by the parish and/or the work group. Once matters are ready to be finalised the appropriate form[s] will be completed by the parish and submitted to the work group for their approval for the formal decision making process to take place. Normally this includes decisions by the Church Council and congregation. These are recorded on the form[s] then returned to the Synod Executive Officer. He checks them then sends them to Presbytery. The Presbytery process includes the matter being considered by the Finance & Property work group, then Presbytery Council. Presbytery then sends the form[s] back to the Synod Executive Officer who submits them to the Synod Property Commission. Once they have made their decision, the Synod Executive Officer informs the parish of the outcome. The parish then carries out the decisions.

All documents that need signing in any property process must be forwarded to the Otago Foundation Trust Board lawyers for them to review and for the Otago Foundation Trust Board to sign. No parish representative is permitted to sign any document whatsoever. If you need advice on this matter or to discuss this, please contact the Otago Foundation Trust Board Factor or the Synod Executive Officer

View the Earthquake Prone Property Policy HERE 

View the Working with Tangata Whenua in Making Decisions HERE

View the Otago Foundation Trust Board Property Handbook: A Guide for Parishes Dealing with Church Property HERE