Birth Registration: Children born in the country attain citizenship if either parent is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the country. Children born outside the country attain citizenship if either parent is a citizen born in the country. The law requires notification of births by both parents as soon as “reasonably practicable” (deemed as generally being within two months of the birth), and most births were registered within this time frame.
Child Abuse: Continuing a trend from the previous year, total cases of identified child abuse and neglect increased approximately 11 percent in 2011 compared with 2010. According to the Ministry of Social Development, abuse or neglect was found in around two-fifths of the cases investigated. More public awareness campaigns were conducted to bring attention to this issue, which was believed to have led to more reports of concern. A disproportionately high number of reported cases of child abuse (approximately 45 percent) involved Maori children.
The government promoted information sharing between the courts and health and child-protection agencies to identify children at risk of abuse. The Office of the Commissioner for Children played a key role in monitoring violence and abuse against children.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children remained a problem. A 2007 nationwide study--the most recent available--found that 1.3 percent of 772 surveyed sex workers were underage. When discovered, law enforcement authorities arrested and prosecuted violators. Citizens who commit child sex offenses overseas may be prosecuted in New Zealand courts. The law makes it an offense punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to assist a person under 18 years of age in providing commercial sexual services; to receive earnings from commercial sexual services provided by a person younger than 18; or to contract for commercial sexual services from, or be a client of, a person under 18. The law also makes it an offense to deal in individuals younger than 18 for sexual exploitation or engagement in enforced labor. The penalty for a person who sells, buys, transfers, barters, rents, hires, or in any other way enters into a dealing or takes an action involving a person under 18 for the purposes of sexual exploitation or enforced labor is 14 years’ imprisonment.
The government developed in concert with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) a national plan of action against the commercial exploitation of children and operated programs to reintegrate children out of prostitution through vocational training and educational opportunities.
The law provides that any person who has a sexual connection with a person younger than 16 years of age is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.
The law prohibits child pornography and provides for a NZ$10,000 (approximately $8,000) fine of an individual, and NZ$30,000 ($24,000) of a corporate body, if a person makes, imports, supplies, distributes, possesses for supply, displays, or exhibits an objectionable publication. The law also provides a penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment or a NZ$200,000 ($160,000) fine of a corporate body if a person commits such an act knowing that the publication is objectionable. Possession of objectionable material is also an offense punishable by a NZ$2,000 fine ($1,600) for an individual and NZ$5,000 ($4,000) for a corporate body. A person knowingly possessing objectionable material is liable to a penalty of five years’ imprisonment or a NZ$50,000 ($40,000) fine for an individual or a NZ$100,000 ($80,000) fine for a corporate body. It constitutes an aggravating factor to be taken into account in sentencing if the publication promotes or supports exploitation of children or young persons for sexual purposes, deals with sexual conduct with or by children or young persons, or exploits nudity of children or young persons.
The Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit actively policed images of child sex abuse on the Internet and prosecuted offenders. The government maintains extraterritorial jurisdiction over child sex offenses committed by the country’s citizens abroad.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For country-specific information see http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_3781.html.