Adoption Law Reform

The Government is reforming our adoption laws.

Aotearoa New Zealand's main adoption law, the Adoption Act 1955, no longer meets the needs of our society or reflects modern adoption best practice.

The aim of the reform is to create a new system that protects the rights, best interests and welfare of children, upholds our Tiriti o Waitangi obligations, and upholds our international human rights obligations. We want to put tamariki, our children, at the heart of our adoption laws.

Through two rounds of engagement since June 2021, the Ministry of Justice has sought the views of the public and those affected by adoption to guide development of proposals for creating a new adoption system

The Ministry of Justice is using the feedback from both rounds of engagement to refine adoption policy proposals. The Ministry intends to provide advice to the Minister of Justice, Hon Kiri Allan, on a final package of proposals in the first half of 2023.

Public engagement has concluded

The second round of engagement on the options for reform ended in August 2022. The Ministry would like to thank all those who made submissions and talked to us, either face-to-face or online. 

You can find out about the second round of engagement and the feedback we received, including the second discussion document A new adoption system for Aotearoa New Zealand and Adoption law reform: Summary of feedback on 2022 engagement here

Second round of engagement in 2022

You can find out about last year’s first round of engagement here, including the first discussion document Adoption in Aotearoa New Zealand and the two summaries of feedback: Summary of submissions from engagement and Targeted Engagement: Adoption law reform report here:

First round of engagement in 2021 


The National Iwi Chairs Forum Pou Tikanga, in collaboration with Ināia Tonu Nei(external link), held a Māori-led wānanga on whāngai in August 2022. The wānanga sought Māori views on whether there needs to be changes to the way the law treats whāngai and, if so, what the process for making those changes should look like. 

Thank you to all who attended and shared their views. The general view at the wānanga was that further work on whāngai should be separate to adoption reform and led by Māori. The Ministry therefore is not progressing work to provide specific legal recognition of whāngai at present. 


Te Aka Matua o te Ture | the Law Commission recently completed its review of surrogacy laws. In its report, Te Kōpū Whāngai: He Arotake | Review of Surrogacy, the Law Commission has recommended creating new processes for establishing legal parenthood in surrogacy arrangements. The Government will be considering the Law Commission’s recommendations for reforming surrogacy laws separately.

Current state of New Zealand's adoption laws

New Zealand’s adoption laws are in three pieces of legislation:

Related links

Proactive release - Government response to the Social Services and Community Committee report on matters related to forced adoptions   [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Proactive release - Second Interim Regulatory Impact Statement: Consultation options for adoption law reform [PDF, 1.6 MB]