Practice Relating to Rule 51. Public and Private Property in Occupied Territory
Section B. Immovable public property in occupied territory
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides that, in the case of occupied territory:
Enemy public immovable property may be administered and used but it may not be confiscated.
Real property belonging to the State which is essentially of a civil or non-military character, such as public buildings and offices, land, forests, parks, farms, and mines, may not be damaged unless its destruction is imperatively demanded by the exigencies of war. The Occupying Power becomes the administrator and usufructuary of the property and must not exercise its rights in such a wasteful or negligent way as will decrease the property’s value. A usufructuary has no right of disposal or sale.
The Occupying Power may, however, let or utilize public land and buildings, sell the crops on public land, cut and sell timber and work the mines but he must not make a contract or lease extending beyond the conclusion of the war and the cutting or mining must not exceed what is necessary or usual. It must not constitute abusive exploitation.
Public real property which is of an essentially military nature such as airfields and arsenals remain at the absolute disposal of the Occupying Power.