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Community life

Harassment in the community: Getting protection under the Harassment Act

Breaches of restraining orders

What kinds of behaviour will breach the restraining order?

Harassment Act 1997, s 25

Unless the harasser has a reasonable excuse, it will be a breach of the restraining order, and a criminal office, if they don’t follow the conditions of the order or if they act in a way that’s inconsistent with the order.

It will therefore be a criminal offence for the harasser to contact you in any way, or to do things like watching or hanging around outside your home, or following you or stopping you in the street, or doing anything else that gives you a reasonable fear for your safety.

The order also makes it illegal for the harasser to threaten to do any of those things, or to encourage another person to do any of those things to you.

Note: For a full list of the kinds of behaviour that are banned under a restraining order, see “What counts as ‘harassment’ ” in this chapter. Although to get a restraining order you have to show that there’s been a pattern of harassment, once the order is made it will be a breach and a criminal offence even if there’s just a single act of harassment.

As well as being charged with breaching a restraining order, the respondent can also be charged with any other crime committed at the same time, such as assault, theft, or misuse of a telephone.

What’s the penalty for breaching a restraining order?

Harassment Act 1997, s 25

If the harasser breaches the restraining order, they can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to $5,000.

However, they can be jailed for up to two years if they’ve already been convicted twice in the last three years of breaching a restraining order made to protect you. This heavier penalty applies whether the earlier convictions related to the same restraining order or to a separate restraining order made to protect you.

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Harassment and bullying

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Victims Information


Phone: 0800 650 654
Email: victimsinfo@justice.govt.nz

This is the website of the government’s “Victims Centre”. The site provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime, at each stage of the criminal and youth justice process.

Human Rights Commission


Phone: 0800 496 877
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz

The Human Rights Commission website has information about your rights if you’re sexually or racially harassed:

“Sexual harassment” guide

Racial harassment

Harassment and bullying in the workplace


The Worksafe New Zealand website has information and guidance about workplace bullying:

YouthLaw Aotearoa


Phone: 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884 529)
Email: nzyouthlaw@gmail.com

YouthLaw provides free legal advice for young people throughout New Zealand. Their website provides great information for young people about the law around harassment and bullying.

Ministry of Justice

Applying for a Harmful Digital Communications Order

This has information about applying to a District Court judge for a “take down” order or other type of action when you’ve suffered serious emotional distress because of cyberbullying:


Help with online bullying, abuse and harassment


Go to this website for free and confidential help if you’ve been bullied, abused or harassed online. NetSafe has been appointed by the government to be a free information service and complaints agency under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

NZ Police


This police webpage lists a number of phone counselling services and websites that can help.

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