Current information on the protection and assistance available to female victims of domestic violence; and the attitudes of the public and government toward female victims of conjugal violence and sexual assault [NZL33129.E]

In its February 1995 Final Report "From Rhetoric to Reality: Ending Domestic Violence in Nova Scotia," the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia discussed domestic violence in New Zealand, stating that:

New Zealand has a Domestic Protection Act which was passed in 1982 after much debate. It was passed as a family law Act which sought to provide specific remedies for domestic violence because the existing criminal law remedies were inadequate and inappropriate for domestic violence[98]. The Act provides remedies for men or women who were or had been living together in the same household. It gives the court jurisdiction to make non-violence, non-molestation, occupancy and tenancy orders and to recommend that either party attend counselling. It is important to note that while police can arrest, detain and keep a person in custody for 24 hours ("a cooling off period") for breach of the order, the breach is not itself a criminal offence. People concerned about civil liberties have been satisfied with the fact that the person is to receive notice of the order and is given the right to make a phone call while in detention. Equally, there is opposition to this Act by people who felt that breach of the order should be a criminal offence. When passed, the Act was seen as a way to avoid the problems in the criminal law process which prevented people from using the courts. Evaluation of the Act and its effectiveness suggests, that this has not had the desired effect. According to recent commentary on the law in New Zealand:
The 'reality' that the Act has to deal with is that domestic violence is now and will continue to be the highest single category of violence reported to the police. In 1988, 1,675 married women and 1,076 women living in de facto relationships, applied for protection from partners. The number of non-violence orders increased by 66% from 1984 to 1986...[It was] submitted that, stated briefly, the policy concerns of the legislators for the Domestic Protection Act were to try to preserve the family unit as a basic unit in society, to ameliorate the social and person cost of domestic violence and to protect property rights. The practice of the Act illustrates that these concerns are not always compatible.
Critics suggest that the problem in New Zealand has arisen from the fact that the Family Courts have emphasized maintenance of the family unit and relationships which make it difficult for women to obtain protection orders. The problem appeared to be due to judicial discretion and in the refusal to confirm the interim emergency protection orders. The refusal has been described as:
The rejection of the criminal law response to domestic violence has led to an emphasis on domestic violence as a family relationship problem or at times, a personal problem of the man because of alcohol or substance abuse.
One of the results of the criticism was that in March 1987, a report of the Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into Violence concluded that the concept of family privacy had the effect of legitimizing violent behaviour and there is no indication of social disapproval. A Domestic Dispute Policy was developed in 1987 which was essentially a zero tolerance policy mandating arrest in all cases where a court order has been breached or where the woman was in danger. She also was not be required to give evidence to support the charge unless there was no other evidence. In addition, police officers were required to provide referrals to support services. Despite this Policy, a recent Report suggests, that this has not resulted in any change[101]. The main point of criticism is that, despite policies and directives the judicial attitude continued in many cases to characterize the problem as one of family dysfunction and that the violence women experienced was minimalized and trivialized. It has been suggested that the New Zealand experience highlights the importance of the judiciary in ensuring an effective delivery of the justice system:
Judicial attitudes convey powerful messages to victims and abusers alike. They portray the justice system's commitment to stopping domestic violence. It is, therefore essential that judges convey unequivocal messages that the existence of violence in a relationship is, in fact, a real problem (Feb. 1995).

The attached 1996 Waikato Law Review article by Nan Seuffert entitled "Lawyering for Women Survivors of Domestic Violence" presents

the findings and conclusions of in-depth qualitative interviews with fifteen non-Maori women who are survivors of domestic violence[12] and of interviews with lawyers who represent survivors of domestic violence.[13] For lawyers and others interested in women's access to justice, these interviews provide valuable feedback about women's experiences of legal representation. The women report that along with police, judges[14] and society generally, their lawyers hold attitudes which tend to minimise and trivialise domestic violence and to blame victims for the violence. The women also report that many of their lawyers did not understand the dynamics of domestic violence and often neither believe their stories nor provided them with adequate advocacy. Based on the experiences of the women interviewed, these attitudes affect lawyer-client interactions and legal representation in ways that are detrimental to the women.

The 1997 attachment from the North Shore Women's Centre in Auckland offers general information on abusive relationships, then provides information on community resources, and 9 pages of centres, NGOs, shelters and other places of assistance in Northland, Auckland, Waikato/King Country, Bay of Plenty, Gisbourne/Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Whanganui, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson/Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, South Canterbury, Dunedin and Southland.

New Zealand passed the Domestic Protection Act 1982 No. 120, which went into effect on 1 March 1983, and the Domestic Protection Acts 1982-1987 (By Parliamentary Counsel) No. 001, which were amended in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1994 (GP Legislation n.d.). The Domestic Violence Act 1995 No. 086 was passed in 1995 and amended in 1998 by the Domestic Violence Amendment Act 1998 No. 41, which can be accessed on the Internet at 1998/an/041. html.

Below please find the index of the New Zealand Domestic Violence Act 1995 No. 086, available on the Internet at

Domestic Violence Act 1995 086




1. Short Title and commencement

I: Preliminary Provisions

2. Interpretation

3. Meaning of "domestic violence''

4. Meaning of "domestic relationship''

5. Object

6. Act to bind the Crown

II: Protection Orders


7. Application for protection order

8. Contents of application

9. Applications by minors

10. Applications against minors

11. Applications on behalf of persons lacking capacity

12. Applications on behalf of certain other persons

13. Application without notice for protection order

Scope of Protection Orders

14. Power to make protection order

15. Existence of other proceedings not to preclude granting of protection order

16. Protection of persons other than applicant

17. Protection from respondent's associates

18. Mutual orders

Standard Conditions of Protection Orders

19. Standard conditions of protection order

20. Further provisions relating to standard condition prohibiting contact

Standard Condition Relating to Weapons

21. Standard condition relating to weapons

22. Court may dispense with, modify, discharge, or re-impose standard condition relating to weapons

23. Further provisions relating to powers conferred by section 22

24. Further provisions relating to effect of standard condition relating to weapons

25. Retention, return, and disposal of surrendered weapons and licences

26. Arms Act 1983 not affected

Special Conditions of Protection Orders

27. Court may impose special conditions

28. Further provisions relating to certain special conditions


29. Programmes for protected persons

30. Commencement of section 29

31. Joint programme sessions

32. Power to direct respondent or associated respondent to attend programme

33. Terms of direction that respondent or associated respondent attend programme

34. Registrar to notify programme provider to whom respondent or associated respondent is referred

35. Programme provider to arrange meeting with respondent or associated respondent

36. Direction to attend programme made on application without notice

37. Court may confirm or discharge direction

38. Respondent or associated respondent excused from attending

39. Notice of absence from programme

40. Notice of conclusion of programme

41. Programme provider may request variation of direction

42. Judge may call respondent or associated respondent before Court

43. Confidentiality of information disclosed to programme provider

44. Programme providers' fees and expenses

Duration, Variation, and Discharge of Protection Orders

45. Duration of protection order

46. Power to vary protection order

47. Power to discharge protection order

48. Variation or discharge on behalf of protected person

Enforcement of Protection Orders

49. Offence to contravene protection order

50. Power to arrest for breach of protection order

51. Release of person arrested

III: Orders Relating To Property

Occupation Orders

52. Application for occupation order

53. Power to make occupation order

54. Effect of occupation order

55. Power to vary or discharge occupation order

Tenancy Orders

56. Application for tenancy order

57. Power to make tenancy order

58. Effect of tenancy order

59. Power to discharge tenancy order and revest tenancy

General Provisions Relating to Occupation Orders and Tenancy Orders

60. Application without notice for occupation order or tenancy order

61. Procedure for occupation orders and tenancy orders

Ancillary Furniture Orders

62. Application for ancillary furniture order

63. Power to make ancillary furniture order

64. Effect of ancillary furniture order

65. Power to vary or discharge ancillary furniture order

Furniture Orders

66. Application for furniture order

67. Power to make furniture order

68. Effect of furniture order

69. Power to vary or discharge furniture order

Applications without Notice for Furniture Orders

70. Application without notice for ancillary furniture order or furniture order

General Provisions Relating to Property Orders

71. Applications for property orders by minors who are not children

72. Applications for property orders against minors

73. Applications for property orders on behalf of persons other than children

74. Notice to persons with interest in property affected

75. Protection of mortgagees, etc.

IV: Procedure

Temporary Orders

76. Respondent to notify intention to appear

77. Procedure where respondent does not require hearing

78. Court may require hearing before order becomes final

79. Application of sections 76 to 78 to other affected persons

80. Procedure where hearing required

General Provisions

81. Court may appoint lawyer

82. Power of Court to call witnesses

83. Conduct of proceedings

84. Evidence

85. Standard of proof

86. Orders by consent

87. Explanation of orders

88. Copies of orders to be sent to Police

89. Information on service of certain orders to be communicated to Police

90. Police to consider exercise of powers under Arms Act 1983


91. Appeals to High Court

92. Application of provisions relating to minors, etc.

93. Appeals to Court of Appeal

94. Appeals to be heard as soon as practicable

95. Effect of appeal

V: Enforcement Of Protection Orders Overseas And Foreign Protection Orders

Enforcement of New Zealand Orders Overseas

96. Enforcement of New Zealand orders overseas

Enforcement of Foreign Protection Orders

97. Registration of foreign protection orders

98. Copies of registered foreign protection orders to be sent to Police

99. Effect of registration

100. Variation of registered foreign protection order

101. Registered foreign protection orders not to be enforced in certain circumstances

102. Evidence taken overseas

103. Proof of documents

104. Depositions to be evidence

105. Prescribed foreign countries

106. Evidence of orders made in foreign country

VI: No-Publication of Information Relating to Protected Person on Public Registers


107. Interpretation

Applications for Directions

108. Protected person may apply for direction that identifying information on public register not be publicly available

109. Agency to determine application

110. Agency to notify applicant of decision

111. Information not to be disclosed pending determination of application or complaint

Effect of Direction

112. Effect of direction

113. Direction not applicable to relevant information subsequently included in register

Duration of Direction

114. Duration of direction

115. Registrar to notify agency of making or discharge of protection order

Disclosure of Relevant Information with Consent

116. Disclosure of relevant information with consent of protected person

Other Enactments Not Affected

117. Other enactments not affected

Complaints to Privacy Commissioner

118. Complaints to Privacy Commissioner

119. Investigation of complaint

120. Application of certain provisions of Privacy Act 1993


121. Regulations

Codes of Practice

122. Codes of practice

123. Application of certain provisions of Privacy Act 1993

124. Effect of code

VII: Miscellaneous Provisions

Restriction on Publication

125. Restriction on publication of reports of proceedings

Rules and Regulations

126. Rules of Court

127. Regulations


128. Matrimonial Property Act 1976 not affected

Repeals and Consequential Amendments

129. Repeals

130. Amendments to Arms Act 1983

131. Amendment to Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989

132. Amendment to Electoral Act 1993

Transitional Provisions

133. Transitional provisions

Please consult Country Conditions for 1998 for general information on the situation of women.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


GP Legislation. n.d. " Lists of Acts in the GP Legislation collections: D" [Accessed 4 Nov. 1999]

Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia. February 1995. From Rhetoric to Reality: Ending Domestic Violence in Nova Scotia. (Final Report) [Accessed 4 Nov. 1999]

New Zealand. 1998. Domestic Violence Amendment Act 1998 No. 41. [Accessed 4 Nov. 1999]

New Zealand. 1995. Domestic Violence Act 1995 No. 86. text/1995/an/086.html.[Accessed 4 Nov. 1999]

Waikato Law Review. 1996. Nan Seuffert. "Lawyering for Women Survivors of Domestic Violence." [Accessed 4 Nov. 1999]


North Shore Women's Centre, Auckland. 1997. Domestic Violence. [Accessed 3 Nov. 1999] (13 pages)

Waikato Law Review. 1996. Nan Seuffert. "Lawyering for Women Survivors of Domestic Violence." [Accessed 4 Nov. 1999] (39 pages)