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Criminal & traffic law

Entry powers: When the police can come into your home

Entry with a court warrant

The police can come into your house or flat if they have an entry warrant, whether you agree to them coming in or not. A warrant is an official court document issued by a judge or some other court official, often a court registrar.

When can the courts issue an entry warrant?

The courts have powers under various Acts of Parliament to issue a warrant or written authority for the police or other government officials to enter buildings or other property to make arrests, or to investigate or prevent various offences, or to obtain evidence or information.

For example:

  • the Search and Surveillance Act 2012
  • the Fisheries Act 1996
  • the Tax Administration Act 1994, and
  • the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992.

Other state officials, like Customs Officers and Fisheries Officers, also have search powers.

What are my rights if the police have an entry warrant?

Search and Surveillance Act 2012, ss 103, 131; Search and Surveillance Act 2012, s 118

You have to let the police come in if they have an entry warrant issued by a judge or other court official.

The police have to have the warrant with them and you have a right to see it if you ask to. This will allow you to check that the police are keeping to the terms and restrictions stated in the warrant and also to get other relevant information, such as:

  • the name of the Act the warrant is issued under and what the alleged offence is supposed to be
  • the scope of the warrant – that is, who or what the police are looking for and where they’re allowed to search
  • the date the warrant expires (the police can’t use the warrant if the expiry date has already passed).

If you arrive home and the find the police there carrying out a search with a warrant, they can hold you there for a reasonable time while they’re doing the search.

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Email: nzyouthlaw@gmail.com

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“You and the police” (Law Society pamphlet)

This pamphlet has information about what to do when being questioned or arrested by the police. You can access the pamphlet online at:

You can also order hardcopies from:

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA)


Phone: 0800 503 728
Email: info@ipca.govt.nz

The IPCA receives and investigates complaints against the police. A complaint form is available online.

Legal Aid


The Ministry of Justice website has a range of information about Legal Aid.

It also has information about the Police Detention Legal Assistance Scheme (free legal help when someone is being held, arrested or questioned by the police) – go to:

You can also order hard copies of Ministry of Justice pamphlets from:

Phone: 0800 587 847
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz

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