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Upcoming engagement on whāngai and adoption law reform proposals

We are writing to you to inform you that the Ministry of Justice is intending to shortly begin a second round of engagement on adoption law reform. This year’s engagement will focus on options the Government is considering for changing Aotearoa New Zealand’s adoption laws. It will also seek further feedback from Māori on whether there should be changes to the way the law treats whāngai.

In June last year, the Ministry of Justice asked for people’s views on reforming our adoption laws. This included asking for views on how whāngai and atawhai are treated in law. We received more than 270 written submissions and spoke to many people and groups with an interest in adoption law reform. Although we engaged with a number of Māori individuals and groups, we did not hear widely from Māori or iwi groups, particularly in respect of the legal status of whāngai.

We want to engage with Māori in a way that honours our Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi obligations and leads to better outcomes for our Tiriti partners. It is critical that we understand Māori views on our adoption laws before any changes are made. We also want to understand whether Māori consider there need to be changes to the way the law treats whāngai and if so, how a process for making those changes could be developed. We remain committed to ensuring a dedicated and meaningful engagement with Māori on these issues.

It is intended that the second round of engagement will start in mid-2022 and we will email you to let you know when the engagement period is beginning. At that time, we will also let you know how to make a submission, other engagement opportunities and the closing date for submissions.

This information will also be posted on our website: https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/adoption-law-reform/

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