Making historic abuse claims

Making a claim

Who can make a claim?

Usually, it is the person who has been directly affected by the abuse who makes the claim.

You are eligible to make a historic abuse claim to the Ministry of Social Development if:

  • you were in the care or custody of either the Child Welfare Division, the Department of Welfare or Child, Youth or Family, and
  • you were in their care or custody before 2008, and
  • you believe you suffered abuse or neglect while you were in their care or custody, and
  • you believe that you suffered harm because of it, and
  • you are not personally a current client of Oranga Tamariki.

You are eligible to make a historic abuse claim to the Ministry of Education if:

  • you attended a Residential Special School run by the old Department of Education, and
  • you believe you suffered abuse or neglect while you were in their care, and
  • you believe that you suffered harm because of it, and
  • the mistreatment happened before 1989.

If you have suffered abuse or neglect in the care or custody after 2008 in the care of Oranga Tamariki, there is a different claims process that you can follow. For more information about this, see a lawyer about this, or contact your local Community Law Centre.

Proving you were in “state care”

For all historic abuse claims, you will have to prove that you were in “state care” at the time of the abuse. State care includes (but is not limited to):

  • foster care
  • living with your own family under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare
  • ‘special schools’ for learning or behavioural difficulties
  • health camps under Stand Children’s Services
  • in a children’s home
  • in psychiatric care
  • in transport between care facilities
  • in any disability care or facility.
Next Section | How to make a claim

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Dealing with Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Oranga Tamariki/Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki’s website has a range of information about the care and protection issues discussed in this chapter.

Phone: 0508 326 459


Barnardos delivers a range of child, family and education services throughout New Zealand.  Check their website to see what services are available in your area.

Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)

Family Court

The Family Court website has information about how a government agency can apply for a Care or Protection Order of a child.

Website: and select “Family” then “Keeping children safe” and “When Oranga Tamariki gets involved”.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai

“VOYCE” stands for “Voice of the Young and Care Experienced” and is a non-government advocacy service for children and young people in state care.

Phone: 0800 4VOYCE (0800 486 923)

Youthline Aotearoa

Youthline provides free counselling, information and referral services.

Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)
Free text: 234

Women’s Refuge

Women’s Refuge provides 24-hour support, advocacy and accommodation for women and their children experiencing family violence throughout New Zealand.

Crisis line (24/7): 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)

Children’s Commissioner

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner looks to ensure that children’s rights are respected and upheld. It advocates for the best interests of all children and young people in New Zealand.

Phone: 0800 224 453

Office of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman handles complaints about Government agencies, such as Oranga Tamariki or the Police.

Phone: 0800 802 602
To make a complaint online: go to the website above and select “get help (for the public)”

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