Survey Test Marks

200-204 Bridge Street; 319 Hardy Street, Albion Square, NELSON

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Though a period that left a lasting impression on New Zealand's landscape the Survey Test Marks located in Albion Square, Nelson are some of the few physical reminders that remain of land surveying activities from the mid to late 1800s to the early 1900s. Activities that were both a result of, and that acted to further European settlement in New Zealand. It seems likely that the two sets of marks found in Albion Square were laid there because of the areas occupation by government (first provincial and later local and central) and because of its proximity to the centre of Nelson. Though they were laid during different periods both sets of marks served a similar purpose. They were laid as standards against which land surveyors could test their chains and bands to ensure the accuracy of their measurements. The earliest marks found in Albion Square are located to the North of the Courthouse on the perimeter of Albion Square next to Bridge Street but set up from the road. They consist of three small bronze plaques that measure 10 centimetres by 4 centimetres located at either end and at the centre of a concrete line. These marks are said to be a one-chain test base laid down to assist with triangulation work in the area in 1877. They are of particular note as they were prompted by the efforts of surveyor general, John Turnbull Thomson, to improve the accuracy of land surveying throughout the country in late 1870s by introducing a national system. All that remains of the other marks found in Albion Square is one small bronze plaque that measures 8.5 centimetres by 5.5 centimetres. This mark can be found in the fourth car park on the eastern side of the old Hardy Street Girls School. It is said that this mark was part of a five-chain test base reportedly laid down in 1902 after further checks on the standard length in use. Though similar marks were laid down in each district of the Nelson Region and across New Zealand for the same purpose few of these marks remain. The marks in Bridge Street, though reportedly damaged and repaired between 1904-1905, are largely intact. As noted only one mark remains of the five chain test base laid in Hardy Street in 1902. While survey test marks themselves do not feature prominently in histories of land surveying they were a significant tool to land surveyors during the early settlement of New Zealand and played a role in improving accuracy and confidence in the practice of land surveying in New Zealand. Those within Albion Square are largely significant for their symbolic role as one of the few physical reminders of land surveying in New Zealand from the mid to late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Survey Test Mark (Bridge Street) and concrete line. | Imelda Bargas | 22/11/2006 | NZ Historic Places Trust
Close-up of survey test mark (Bridge Street). | Imelda Bargas | 22/11/2006 | NZ Historic Places Trust



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 2007

Date of Effect

6th June 2007

City/District Council

Nelson City


Nelson Region

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes: part of the land described as Sections 201 and 203, City of Nelson and Lot 2 DP 19225, Nelson Land District; and a curtilage surrounding the marks and plaques being one metre in all directions from the outer edge of the concrete the marks are set in and the paved area the plaques are on; and the test marks, plaques and time capsule thereon.

Legal description

Sec 201 City of Nelson (RT NL10B/664), Sec 203 City of Nelson (RT NL10B/664), and Lot 2 DP 19225 (RT NL12C/1115), Nelson Land District

Location Description

Located to the north of the Courthouse between 200-204 Bridge Street and on the eastern side of the Former Hardy Street Girls' School (Former) at 319 Hardy Street, Nelson. It is within the Albion Square Historic Area which is bounded on the north and south side by Hardy Street and Bridge Street, Nelson.

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