Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions


In New Zealand, a royal commission is a formal government inquiry into a specific issue.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions was formally established on 1 February 2018. The commission was established to "consider the experiences of children, young persons, and vulnerable adults who were in care between I January 1950 and 31 December 1999 inclusive".

The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for administering the inquiry.

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What is Archives New Zealand’s role in the inquiry?

Here at Archives, we hold the records and information of the New Zealand Government. This includes those of the organisations that administer state care. We hold thousands of records that are relevant to the Royal Commission and are committed to doing what we can to support the inquiry. These can include files on families or individuals and policy and administrative records. We see the importance of the care leavers and will make it as easy as possible for them to get their personal records.

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Does Archives New Zealand hold your care record?

If you were in state care such as a children’s home we may hold a record about you. However, we don't hold all historical records so it's possible it's still in the care of the organisation that created it. If you were in faith-based care such as a church home we will not hold your record unless you were also in the care of the state at the time.

Not all records have survived and we can’t guarantee we’ll hold a record about you. If we do, we’ll help you find it.

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How do we protect your privacy?

A record containing information about your care will be restricted. This means that even your name will not be listed publicly on Archway. And your record can’t be accessed by anyone without permission.

The most common restriction on a record is closed for 100 years after a person’s birth or close of the file to protect their privacy.

Learn more about requesting access to restricted records.

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How can you get your care record?

To get a copy of a record that contains details about yourself, you can contact us and tell us where and when you were in care.

Even though your record may be here, we can’t show it to you without permission from the organisation that placed it in our care.

If we do hold your record, we’ll tell you who you need to contact to get permission to see it. The organisation will send you a letter or email granting permission, which you must bring with you when you visit our reading room. It should also send a copy to us. If the organisation allows it, you can also arrange to have a copy made. Our Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices each have a private space where people can view restricted material. If you're doing this, we recommend that you have a support person with you.  

Alternatively, the organisation may give you permission to view your records at their premises.

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How long will getting permission take?

This process can take a few weeks. We need to find the record. Then you will need to arrange permission to view it. The time this step takes can vary between organisations. It’s not always easy for us to find these records. Many are not listed by your name and many will be amid large volumes of other information.

Delays are frustrating, but the process is there to make sure we do a thorough search and your privacy remains protected.

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Who created your care record?

These are the main government departments who created records on children in state care and who may have created records about you and the institution you were in:

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What kinds of records did they create?

The types of records made are wide ranging and include:

Some records will contain information on more than one person. In this case, you may receive a copy of your own information, but anything about other people will be redacted to protect their privacy by the organisation that created the record.

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Moratorium on the disposal of records relevant to the Royal Commission

On 28 March 2019 the Chief Archivist issued a General Notice (PDF 71 KB) under Section 20 of the Public Records Act 2005 to implement a moratorium on the disposal of any records relevant to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions Te Kōmihana Karauna mō ngā Tūkino o Mua ki te Hunga i Tiakina e te Kāwanatanga i Tiakina hoki e ngā Whare o te Whakapono as set out in its Terms of Reference.

Learn more about the Disposal Moratorium on public records relevant to the Royal Commission.

Our commitment to you

Archives New Zealand takes its role as keeper of the public record very seriously. We support the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions. If we have your record we’ll do all we can to help you find it and to ensure that the process is as easy for you as possible.

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