The Terms of Reference describe the purpose and boundaries of the inquiry and resulted in the work of the Commission being guided by eight pou or strategic pillars. These are: 

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Survivor voice
  • Circumstances of going into care
  • Nature and extent of abuse
  • Impact of abuse
  • Systemic factors
  • Redress and rehabilitation
  • Transforming how we care.


On 1 February 2018, in a historic global first, the New Zealand Government asked Sir Anand Satyanand to gather New Zealanders’ feedback on the draft Terms of Reference for this Inquiry.

Sir Anand heard from over 400 groups and individuals and incorporated their submissions into a report. This report and its covering letter were presented to the Government on 31 May 2018 and have shaped the final Terms of Reference released by the Government on 12 November 2018.

2021 Amendment order

In April 2021 the Government announced they would be making changes to the Terms of Reference, and these changes were finalised in July 2021.

Changes to the Terms of Reference confirm the Inquiry can make recommendations to help avoid future abuse based on the lessons of the past, and to improve redress systems. To inform those recommendations, the Inquiry can continue to hear from survivors about issues and experiences up to the present day.

There are five key changes:

  1. To change our final reporting date from 3 January 2023 to 30 June 2023.
  2. To remove the mandate to examine current frameworks to prevent and respond to abuse in care, including current legislation, policy, rules, standards and practices.
  3. To continue the ability to make recommendations on redress and to ensure that the factors that allowed abuse to occur in care pre-1999 do not persist.
  4. To continue our ability to hear from survivors about issues and experiences after 1999 for the purposes of making the above recommendations.
  5. To include more specific requirements about how the Royal Commission must report on its progress to the Minister.

The 2021 Amendment Order is provided further down on this page.

An updated version of the Terms of Reference (Reprint as at 5 August 2021) includes the 2021 amendments and is linked to below in PDF and Word versions.

Learning about these changes may be distressing for survivors and we encourage them and/or their whānau to contact us on 0800 222 727 or  There are some frequently asked questions here to help provide more clarity on the changes.


Terms of Reference Reprint as at 5 August 2021 Word

Word Document, 255 KB

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