Adoption Law Reform

The Government is currently undertaking a review of Aotearoa New Zealand’s adoption laws. This review presents an opportunity to modernise all of our adoption laws, including the Adoption Act 1955, which hasn’t been substantially updated in 66 years. The Government is committed to ensuring the law aligns with New Zealand’s values and protect children’s rights. It is also committed to ensuring the law does not discriminate and meets our human rights obligations.

Adoption law reform will be guided by the following objectives: 

  1. To modernise and consolidate New Zealand’s adoption laws to reflect contemporary adoption processes, meet societal needs and expectations, and promote consistency with principles in child-centred legislation
  2. To ensure that children’s rights are at the heart of New Zealand’s adoption laws and practice, and that children’s rights, best interests and welfare are safeguarded and promoted throughout the adoption process, including the right to identity and access to information
  3. To ensure that adoption laws and practice meet our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and reflect culturally appropriate concepts and principles, in particular, tikanga Māori, where applicable
  4. To ensure appropriate support and information is available to those who require it throughout the adoption process and following an adoption being finalised, including information about past adoptions
  5. To improve the timeliness, cost and efficiency of adoption processes where a child is born by surrogacy, whilst ensuring the rights and interests of those children are upheld
  6. To ensure New Zealand meets all of its relevant international obligations, particularly those in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. 

The review will be led by Te Tāhū o te Ture - the Ministry of Justice, working closely with Oranga Tamariki and other relevant agencies. 

Current state of New Zealand's adoption laws

Adoption is the process of transferring the legal rights and responsibilities toward tamariki from birth parents to adoptive parents. The adoption experience has significant and lifelong effects on the children involved.

New Zealand’s adoption laws sit across three pieces of legislation:

The Government will begin engagement in mid-2021  

Public and targeted engagement will take place over three months in mid-2021. Further details will be provided on this webpage once the programme for consultation has been finalised.

Surrogacy Law Review

Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission is currently undertaking a review of surrogacy in Aotearoa New Zealand. As part of this review, the Commission will look at how the adoption process operates in surrogacy arrangements and consider whether there should be a different process for intending parents to become legal parents.

You can read more about the surrogacy review and sign up to receive updates at:

Te Kōpū Whāngai: He Arotake | Review of Surrogacy(external link)

Get in touch: Email adoptionlaw@justice.govt.nz