New Zealand

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CountryNew Zealand
Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is prohibited.
Overview of the child rights situation

New Zealand already implements many children's rights. One of the negative points in the report is the situation of intersexual children, who are still subjected to unnecessary medical treatments. In addition, Maori and Pasifika children are particularly affected by discrimination.

Situation of intersexual and transsexual childrenThe Committee recommends to develop and implement a child rights-based health-care protocol for intersex children, setting the procedures and steps to be followed by health teams, ensuring that no one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy or childhood, guaranteeing the rights of children to bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support. Further it recommends to promptly investigate incidents of surgical and other medical treatment of intersex children without informed consent and adopt legal provisions to provide redress to victims of such treatment, including adequate compensation. New Zealand should also educate and train medical and psychological professionals on the range of biological and physical sexual diversity and on the consequences of unnecessary surgical and other medical interventions on intersex children and extend free access to surgical interventions and medical treatment related to their intersex condition to intersex children between the age of 16 and 18.
Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to provide adolescents with appropriate reproductive health services, including reproductive health education, in school and to promote a healthy lifestyle for adolescents.

Racism, children belonging to a minority and indigenous childrenWhile welcoming the efforts undertaken by the State party to implement culturally appropriate programmes such as the Whanau Ora, the Committee remains seriously concerned about the structural and systematic disadvantages Maori and Pasifika children face in the State party. To improve the situation, the Committee urges the State party to develop a comprehensive, cross-sectorial strategy for the full enjoyment of the rights of Maori and Pasifika children, in close cooperation with them and their communities.
Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive, child rights-based and participatory approach to the fulfilment of the rights of children with disabilities and strengthen its efforts to combat the marginalization and discrimination of children with disabilities in their access to health, education, care and protection services, and undertake awareness-raising campaigns aimed at government officials, the public and families to combat the stigmatization of and prejudice against children with disabilities and promote a positive image of these children. New Zealand should also set up comprehensive measures to develop inclusive education and ensure that inclusive education is given priority over the placement of children in separated institutions and classes and that families of children with disabilities are aware of the services to which they are entitled. Further, the Committee recommends to implement anti-bullying programmes to prevent the occurrence of bullying in schools and undertake an assessment of district inspectors’ investigations into violations of the rights of children with disabilities placed in compulsory residential care.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee recommends that the State party amend the 2013 Immigration (Mass Arrivals) Amendment Act to ensure respect for the right of the child to family reunification, to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration in the issuance of permanent residence permits and to ensure that children’s views and best interests are taken into account in the refugee status determination process. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to promote the integration of and access to services by asylum-seeking and refugee children, with particular attention for those with disabilities.
Free kindergartenYes
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
Digital possibilitiesWhile welcoming the State party’s efforts to improve access to the internet in schools and the development of legislation and resources for children’s online safety, the Committee recommends that the State party expand access to the internet and information to children living in rural areas. New Zealand should also ensure that children aged 14 to 17 falling outside the definition of “children” under the Broadcasting Standards Authority Television Code and the Advertising Standards Authority Code for Advertising for Children are adequately protected from information and material harmful to their well-being.
physical health

To guarantee every child the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that New Zealand take immediate action to reduce the prevalence of preventable and infectious diseases, including by improving housing conditions. The Committee further recommends to take all appropriate legal and educational measures aimed at adults, to stop children being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee recommends that New Zealand promptly take the necessary measures to ensure adequate access to health services to all children, including age-appropriate mental health services, with particular attention to Maori and Pasifika children.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee is concerned about the harmful impact of climate change on children’s health, especially for Maori and Pasifika children and children living in low-income settings. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party ensure that the special vulnerabilities and needs of children, and their views, are taken into account in developing policies or programmes addressing the issues of climate change and disaster risk management, with special attention to groups of children most likely to be affected by climate change, including Maori and Pasifika children and children living in low-income settings as well as routinely undertake health impact assessments, with particular attention to children, to inform legislation and policies related to climate change.

Business sector

The Committee recommends that the State party establish and implement regulations to ensure that the business sector complies with international and national human rights, labour, environment and other standards, particularly with regard to children’s rights. New Zealand should also ensure that the provision of child-related essential services by private enterprises is in compliance with the provisions of the Convention and that the Trans Pacific Partnership trade and investment treaty is in compliance with the provisions of the Convention and that its ratification is preceded by consultations with civil society and children to ensure that the best interests of the child are given due consideration.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges the State party to ensure that any child, male or female, deprived of liberty is separated from adults in all places of detention. New Zealand should also
intensify its efforts to reduce the detention of children in police custody, improve detention conditions and limit the use of detention to a measure of last resort and for the shortest period of time. Further, the Committee recommends to strengthen its efforts to address the overrepresentation of Maori and Pasifika children and young people in the juvenile justice system, including by improving the police’s cultural capability and by investigating allegations of racial biases.

Specific observations

While welcoming the public debate and attention given to the prevalence of child poverty in the State party, including through the appointment of an Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, the Committee is deeply concerned about the enduring high prevalence of poverty among children, and the effect of deprivation on children’s right to an adequate standard of living and access to adequate housing, with its negative impact on health, survival and development and education. It is particularly concerned about the continuing disparities faced by Maori and Pasifika children with regard to the enjoyment of these rights. It is further concerned about the impact of recent welfare and benefit sanctions reforms on children living in benefit-dependent households.
The Committee recommends that the State party ensure adequate funding is allocated to mental health and counselling services to children in Canterbury, including in schools, and develop guidelines to take into account children’s rights, including their right to be heard and to have their best interests taken as a primary consideration, in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report released on 21 October 2016. The Committee urges the State party to consider withdrawing its general reservation and its reservations to articles 32 (2) and 37 (c) and consider extending the application of the Convention to the territory of Tokelau. More information about education in New Zealand:

Last Updated (date)16th of February, 2022