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Feedback sought on NZ adoption laws

Feedback sought on NZ adoption laws

  • 18 Jul 2022
Adoption Law Reform

(Picture caption: New Zealanders have until August 7 to have their say on options for reforming adoption laws.) 

New Zealanders are being encouraged to have their say on options for reforming the country’s 67-year-old adoption laws.

The Ministry of Justice - Te Tāhu o te Ture held an initial round of public consultation last year, unveiling a range of options aimed at putting the rights and best interests of children at the heart of a new adoption system.

Deputy Secretary - Policy, Rajesh Chhana says New Zealand’s Government wanted to hear again from the public about some options it is considering for a new adoption system.

“Last year, the Ministry of Justice heard from over 270 people and organisations, and met with over 25 individuals and groups,” Rajesh says.  

“The Government listened closely to the views and experiences that people shared with us and, drawing on that insight, has developed options for a more open and inclusive adoption system.”

The options, outlined in the discussion document, A new adoption system for Aotearoa New Zealand, include: 

  • Child-centred purpose for adoption
  • Ensuring legal connections to adoptive and birth whānau
  • Supporting children and birth family and whānau to take part in the process
  • Supporting contact agreements to keep children connected to their birth family and whānau
  • Creating automatic access to information on an original birth record
  • Recognising and supporting the adopted person to be connected to their birth culture 

Rajesh adds the new adoption system would listen to children more and support them to take part in the adoption process.

It would also recognise culture, whakapapa and family connection are a key part of a person’s identity.

“The options aren’t a final package of proposals – we want to hear what people agree or don’t agree with, and if they have any other ideas for reform of the adoption system,” he says.

The public can have their say until August 7, 2022.

The Ministry will also be engaging with specific communities about the options, including people impacted by adoption, Māori and Pacific communities.

It is also seeking further and specific feedback from Māori on whether whāngai should be legally recognised, and if so, how.

The discussion document has been translated into five languages and produced in a summary and accessible format for disabled communities.

It has been published on the Ministry of Justice website along with information on how to make a submission.  

Options relating to surrogacy have not been included in the discussion document, and the Government will be considering Te Aka Matua o te Ture - the Law Commission’s recent recommendations for reforming surrogacy laws separately.

The Ministry of Justice will provide advice to the Government on final adoption law reform proposals by the end of the year.