Rape and Domestic Violence: According to a 2014 government report, one in four women experienced intimate partner or sexual violence in their lives. Violence against women affected all socioeconomic groups. The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment; however, indefinite detention may occur in cases where the parole board, during its annual review, believes the prisoner poses a continuing threat to society.
Domestic violence is a criminal offense, but police did not classify domestic violence separately from other types of assault.
Police can issue Police Safety Orders, allowing police to remove an alleged perpetrator from the family home for up to five days. Police were responsive to reported domestic violence incidents. The government partially funded women’s shelters, psychosocial services, rape crisis centers, sexual abuse counseling, family-violence victim support networks, and violence prevention services. In June the government announced it would allocate 45 million New Zealand dollars ($32 million) over four years to support victims and prevent sexual violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides civil penalties. Sexual contact induced by certain threats may also fall under the criminal code, with a maximum 14-year prison sentence. The HRC published fact sheets on sexual harassment and made sexual harassment prevention training available to schools, businesses, and government departments on a regular basis.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men, and the law prohibits discrimination in employment and rates of pay for equal or similar work. The Ministry for Women addresses problems of discrimination and gender equality, and there is a minister for women in the cabinet.
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 period.
Child Abuse: The number of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect decreased slightly to 16,394 for the July 2015 to June 2016 fiscal year, from 16,472 the previous year. A disproportionately high number of reported cases of child abuse (more than 50 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 deterring child abuse, advocating for children’s interests, and monitoring violence and abuse against children.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 20 for both men and women, but persons ages 16-19 may marry with parental permission. Marriages involving persons under age 18 were rare.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides that any person who has a sexual connection with a person younger than 16 years is liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years. Further, the law makes it an offense punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to assist a person under 18 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 forced labor.
The penalty for a person who enters into an arrangement or takes an action involving a person under 18 for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor is 14 years’ imprisonment. New Zealand courts may prosecute citizens who commit child sex offenses overseas.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children remained a concern. No recent data was available on its prevalence, however. The government, in concert with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), operated programs to reintegrate children out of prostitution through vocational training and educational opportunities.
The law prohibits child pornography and provides for individual and corporate fines if a person produces, imports, supplies, distributes, possesses for supply, displays, or exhibits an objectionable publication. Penalties increase to up to 10 years’ imprisonment or a substantially greater fine if such an act is committed with knowledge that the publication is objectionable. Simple possession of objectionable material is punishable by fines, while knowingly possessing objectionable material is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a larger fine. For sentencing purposes, it is an aggravating factor if the publication promotes or supports exploitation of youth 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.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish community numbered approximately 7,000, according to the 2013 New Zealand Census. Anti-Semitic incidents were rare.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment; education; access to places and facilities, including air travel and other transport; and the provision of goods, services, housing, and accommodation. The government is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disability, unless such discrimination can be “demonstrably justified.” There are laws and programs designed to provide access to communications and information for persons with disabilities. The government effectively enforced applicable laws. Most school-age children with disabilities attended school.
The Auckland Council, in coordination with the Blind Foundation, instituted assisted voting and increased access to information about candidates for blind and low vision voters. Auckland Council also provided information on local elections via the Blind Foundation’s Telephone Information Service, distributed 12 hours of candidate and voting information to 1,600 individuals, and produced New Zealand Sign Language videos and an “easy read” leaflet for persons with learning difficulties and low English-language literacy levels.
The HRC reported in its key findings for 2016 that the number of complaints on the basis of disability decreased from 354 in 2014/2015 to less than 176 in 2015/2016. The government’s Office for Disability Issues worked to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. Additionally, both the HRC and the Mental Health Commission continued to address mental disabilities in their antidiscrimination efforts.
Pacific Islanders, who constituted 7 percent of the population, experienced some societal discrimination and had the highest rates of unemployment (13.1 percent) and lowest labor-force participation (61 percent), compared with the rest of the population. Asians made up 12 percent of the population and also reported some societal discrimination.
The Ministries of Justice and Pacific Peoples had a program to identify gaps in delivery of government services to Pacific Islanders. The government’s race relations commissioner managed the Diversity Action Program, which included a widely attended Diversity Forum and aimed to help eliminate race-based discrimination against the Maori, Pacific Islander, and Asian communities.
The Office of Ethnic Affairs within the Department of Internal Affairs focused on improving dialogue and understanding about minority communities among the wider population.
Approximately 15 percent of the population claim descent from the country’s indigenous Maori. The government bestows specific recognition and rights, enshrined in law, custom, and practice, to the indigenous Maori population. The government did not withhold rights to other particular persons or collectives.
Between July 2015 and June 2016, the government enacted legislation that settled seven claims by indigenous groups (“iwi”), relating to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the country’s founding document. An additional four groups signed deeds of settlement and were in various stages of the legislative process to make their deeds unconditional. The government continued active negotiations with almost all iwi in various stages of the claims process.
The law prohibits discrimination against the indigenous population, but there was a continuing pattern of disproportionate numbers of Maori on unemployment and welfare rolls, in prison, among school dropouts, in infant mortality statistics, and among single-parent households.
Maori constituted 51 percent of the prison population and 45 percent of persons serving community-based sentences. The government, along with community partners, continued to implement programs and services to reduce Maori recidivism and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. The indigenous Maori population and the immigrant Pacific Islander community experienced higher rates of violence, including gender-based violence, compared with the nonindigenous population. The government implemented a number of programs targeting these communities to lessen rates of violence and improve community resilience.
The Ministry of Maori Development, in cooperation with several Maori NGOs, sought to improve the status of indigenous persons.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law does not criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults. The law prohibits abuse, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the government generally enforced the law. From July 2015 to June 2016, approximately 2 percent of discrimination complaints received by the HRC related to gender identity or sexual orientation.