Review of adoption laws in Aotearoa New Zealand

Closed 31 Aug 2021

Opened 18 Jun 2021


We want to hear from you about how we can change our adoption laws to meet the values and needs of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2021 and beyond.

The aim of the review is to create a new system that provides strong safeguards for protecting the rights, best interests and welfare of children, and upholds our international human rights obligations. We need to make sure we’re putting our tamariki, our children, at the heart of our adoption laws.

What's happening?

Te Tāhū o te Ture – the Ministry of Justice is leading a project to help the Government consider how to update our adoption laws and processes. There have been calls to update adoption laws for a long time, and we acknowledge the time and effort adoption reform advocates have dedicated over many years to bring about change. Now is the time to share your views to inform how we proceed.

New Zealand’s main adoption law, the Adoption Act 1955, is now over 65 years old. The law no longer accurately reflects New Zealand society, modern adoption practices, and does not place children’s rights at its centre. Adoption laws are now used for reasons not considered at the time they came into force. For example, adoption is used to create a full legal parent-child relationship between intending parents and children born by surrogacy.

Overseas and intercountry adoptions make up the majority of adoptions made and recognised in New Zealand. Adoption has significant and lifelong effects on those involved, particularly for those who are adopted. It can affect aspects of a person’s life that many people view as intrinsic to their identity, such as their culture and language.

How to give feedback

Your thoughts and ideas will play an important part in helping to get our adoption laws right – please share them with us. You can have your say by answering the questions in this online survey that are relevant to you and your whanau:

Public online survey

Alternatively, you can:

  • Email your feedback to:
    (this can be written or in a video format)
  • Post your feedback to:

    Adoption Law Reform
    Ministry of Justice
    Free Post 113
    PO Box 180
    Wellington 6140

The closing date for submissions and completed online surveys is 5pm, 31 August 2021. Submissions received after the closing date will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What happens to your feedback?

We’ll use your feedback to help advise the Government on how our adoption laws should be reformed.

Your survey responses will be anonymised. No names of individuals will be identified.

A second round of consultation will be undertaken in mid-2022 to report back on feedback and seek the public’s views on the Government’s proposals for review.

We may need to release your feedback under the Official Information Act

We may need to release your feedback after an Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) request. We can withhold personal details under the OIA, including your name and address.

If you do not want us to release any information in your feedback, please state this clearly when you send it to us and explain why. For example, some information may be commercially sensitive or personal. We’ll take your views into account when we respond to OIA requests.

You can access and correct your personal information

The Privacy Act 2020 governs how we collect and use your personal information. You have the right to access and correct your personal information.

Supporting information

You can find out more about current adoption laws from our Discussion Document and Summary Document. This information describes how adoption works now and what some people have already said they think needs to change.

Read the Discussion Document - English [PDF, 696KB]

Read the Summary Document - English [PDF, 325KB]

Read the Summary Document - Te Rēo Māori [PDF, 322KB]

Read the Summary Document - Large Print [PDF, 422KB]

An audio version of the Summary Document [MP3, 15MB]

New Zealand Sign Language video series about adoption

Easy Read version of the Summary Document [PDF, 3.6MB]

Easy Read version of the Summary Document [DOCS, 11MB]

About Easy Read

Easy Read information uses words and pictures to present information in a way that is easier to understand. 

Easy Read information has been developed to support people with learning disabilities better understand written information.

People who find Easy Read information useful include some people who: 

  • have a learning disability 
  • have low literacy levels 
  • use English as a second language 
  • are elderly 
  • are deaf.

This is an Easy Read translation of the summary document. It covers some of the main issues in the summary document, but not all of them.

Braille version of the Summary Document is available upon request. Please email for a braille copy.

Summary Document translated into other languages

Read the Summary Document – Gagana Sāmoa [PDF, 322KB]

Read the Summary Document – Lea Faka-Tonga [PDF, 332KB]

Read the Summary Document – Traditional Chinese [PDF, 583KB]

Read the Summary Document – Simplified Chinese [PDF, 445KB]

Read the Summary Document – Korean [PDF, 451KB]

Read the Summary Document – Hindi [PDF, 391KB]


  • General public


  • Adoption Law Reform