Legislation seeking to prevent forced marriage passes

Image: Jasper Graetsch on Unsplash

The Minors (Court Consent to Relationships) Legislation Bill has passed its third reading in Parliament and received Royal Assent.

The purpose of the Minors (Court Consent to Relationships) Legislation Bill is to prevent forced marriage. It requires 16 and 17 year olds to apply to the Family Court for approval to marry and makes it illegal to issue a marriage licence to a 16 or 17 year old without the Court’s approval. This replaces the previous requirement for the consent of parents or guardians.

The law will also apply to civil unions and de facto relationships, as they are also legally recognised relationships and "a de facto relationship could be exploited in ways this bill aims to prevent if it were excluded from the requirement for court consent." (Justice Committee report 2018, p.3)

Former National MP and current Human Rights Commission Equal Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue introduced the member's bill in 2012. National MP Jo Hayes sponsored the bill from 2017.

The Justice Committee released their report recommending the bill be passed with amendments in March 2018. These amendments included expanding the legislation to include civil unions and de facto relationships, allowing a judge to request a cultural report to help with making a decision and allowing the court to appoint legal representation for the applicant.

For more background information about the legislation see our previous story Submissions open on bill to prevent forced marriage.


The Shakti Youth Unit developed Break free!: A practical handbook for migrant and refugee youth breaking free from family violence (2017).

The It's Not OK campaign has information for migrant communities including resources such as the 'Culture - no excuse for abuse' booklet, produced with Shakti.

The Multicultural Centre for Women's Health, based in Australia, has developed a new guide to support people and organisations working on violence prevention with immigrant and refugee communities, Intersectionality Matters: Guide to engaging immigrant and refugee communities to prevent violence against women (2017).

Related news

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill has proposed a number of changes to civil and criminal law. This includes creating a new offence for coercion to marry. For more information about the planned legislation see our story Government introduces Bill to reform family violence laws. The bill is awaiting its second reading in Parliament.

The Australian Institute of Criminology has recently published a report, When saying no is not an option: Forced marriage in Australia and New Zealand (2018). It summarises findings from research on forced marriage. The research involved interviewing stakeholders, community groups and victims/survivors from New Zealand and Australia. It explored perceptions and realities of forced marriage, consequences of criminalising forced marriage and interventions, policy development and legislation.

For information and research specific to Aotearoa New Zealand about migrant youth experiences of intimate partner violence see the following articles in our library:

Also see the issues paper the Intersectionality of Forced Marriage with Other Forms of Abuse in the United States (2016) from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV).

Selected and related media

Forced marriage in NZ: Lack of statistics 'disappointing' after Government vowed action, Stuff, 27.06.2019

Child marriage in NZ: MP calls for Immigration to stop giving partnership visas to children, Stuff, 11.06.2019

Domestic abuse survivor faced deportation after she left violent husband, Stuff, 04.05.2019

Domestic violence against migrants: we need action, Radio NZ, 27.01.2019

Mum of four faced deportation over husband's domestic violence conviction, Stuff, 13.01.2019

Spike in number of South Asian domestic violence victims seeking culturally appropriate help, NZ Herald, 04.09.2018

I Am Free - Sehar Moughal, TVNZ 'I am' series, 10.07.2018(Content warning: visual re-enactments and descriptions of violence)

Judges will need training to spot forced marriage - charity, Newshub, 09.08.2018

Courts to get the final say over whether young teenagers can marry, Stuff, 08.08.2018

New law will protect minors from forced marriage in New Zealand, NZ Herald, 08.08.2018

Parliament passes Bill to protect teens from forced marriage, Newshub, 08.08.2018

Marriage of minors bill would give power to courts, not parents, to stop forced marriage, Stuff, 15.02.2018