Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions


As announced by the Prime Minister in early 2018, a Royal Commission has been established under the Inquiries Act to identify, examine and report on the abuse of children, young persons and vulnerable adults while in State care, or in the care of faith-based institutions. This includes girls’ and boys’ homes, youth justice residences, foster care, psychiatric and disability care, and different types of schools. 

As well as being able to look into physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect, the Inquiry will also be able to look into inadequate care or improper treatment that resulted in serious physical or mental harm to individuals.

The Royal Commission’s focus is on the period between January 1950 and December 1999, with an underlying discretion to consider abuse and neglect that occurred beyond that timeframe. As well as looking backwards to determine what happened in the past, the Royal Commission will also seek to identify what needs to change to prevent any abuse or neglect from happening again in the future.

The Royal Commission is set to run over several years, with an initial report to be provided by December 2020 and a final report to be delivered before January 2023.

How Police is involved

In its broad terms of reference, the scope of the Royal Commission includes abuse or neglect which occurred in “transitional and law enforcement settings” – including Police cells, Police custody, and transportation to and from other places of care.

How Police investigated specific allegations of abuse in the past is not within the Royal Commission’s remit. If there are concerns about perceived failings of specific Police investigations, this is a matter able to be addressed by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

How Police will support the work of the Royal Commission

Police is working with a special, independent, Secretariat, which will be coordinating input to the Royal Commission across all affected government agencies.

Police will deal with any reports of alleged historic physical or sexual assault, or other abuse or neglect, which get referred to Police as a consequence of the Royal Commission’s work.

It may be that individuals disclose previously-unreported experiences of abuse or neglect. If this happens, protocols will be worked out with the Royal Commission for matters to be referred to Police for investigation as possible historic crimes.

Requesting records or other information

You can request information online, either a request for information about yourself or for other information.

Requesting information about yourself (under the Privacy Act)

The Privacy Act 1993 enables you to request information about yourself. You do not have to be a citizen or permanent resident, or be in New Zealand to request it.

If you want to request information about someone else, you should request this under the Official Information Act – see below.

Requesting other information (under the Official Information Act)

The Official Information Act 1982 (or OIA) enables you to make a request for official information held by public sector agencies, including New Zealand Police. New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, visitors to New Zealand, and body corporates registered or with a place of business in New Zealand can make a request under the OIA.

Alternatively, you can download the Request for Personal Information form (PDF 584KB) and deliver your completed request by email (if known), by hand, or by post to your nearest Police station or District Headquarters, or Police National Headquarters

Where to learn more

There is information about the Royal Commission on its dedicated website. Its terms of reference can be accessed from the New Zealand Legislation website.

To immediately report experiences of abuse or neglect, whether or not you or someone you know intends to share these experiences with the Royal Commission, there is a range of information on our website about how to report a crime, plus advice specifically for anyone who wants to report sexual assault

Regardless of whether an assault is historic or happened only recently, police and other specially-trained people can assist victims and/or those reporting the sexual assault, along with family/whānau, to help decide what to do next.

Likewise, if you have any concerns about abuse or neglect that might be happening to children or other vulnerable people currently in care, please notify these concerns as early as possible to either Oranga Tamariki (the Ministry for Children) or local police, so that safety assessments can be made as quickly as possible by specially-trained staff. Read this Frequently Asked Question for more information on what steps you can take.