Quick Exit

The Terms of Reference describe the purpose and boundaries of the inquiry and resulted in the work of the Royal 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.


Royal Commission’s final report and recommendations date extended to 28 March 2024

The Royal Commission has been extended until 28 March 2024. 

Read Royal Commission welcomes extension, statement here.


2023 Terms of Reference Amendment Order (No 2) - September

The Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference were amended in September 2023 to confirm the interpretation of "ïn the care of faith-based institutions" in Minute 16 of the inquiry.

The four key changes were to:

  • record the resignation of Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae, MNZM, of South Auckland, lawyer, former Families Commissioner, and Pacific community leader; and
  • confirm the interpretation of “in the care of faith-based institutions” in Minute 16 of the inquiry (dated 31 January 2022); and
  • accordingly, affirm the basis on which the inquiry has conducted its process and received evidence from victims and survivors in relation to abuse in the care of faith-based institutions; and
  • thereby support the inquiry to discharge its functions in accordance with the principle of focusing on victims and survivors as required by clause 19(b) of the inquiry’s terms of reference.

You can view the Amendment Order here: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2023/0250/latest/LMS891702.html 

You can view the updated Terms of Reference here: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2018/0223/latest/LMS118772.html?src=qs 


2023 Terms of Reference Amendment Order - June 

The Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference were amended in June 2023 to support delivery of the final report by 28 March 2024, within budget, and to prevent delays to cross-government work on a new independent redress system for survivors.

There were four key changes. The Royal Commission:

  • must not receive and consider new evidence after 31 July 2023, other than that which may arise during natural justice processes, if doing so may delay completion of the final report;

  • must not produce any additional interim reports after 31 July 2023, or produce any additional research reports, case studies, or issues papers if doing so may delay completion of the final report;

  • must deliver draft final recommendations to the appropriate Minister by 30 November 2023, and explain any differences between these, and those provided in the final report; and

  • must find ways to ensure the public understands and has access to its final report.

You can view the Amendment Order here: Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions Amendment Order 2023 (SL 2023/141) – New Zealand Legislation

You can view the updated Terms of Reference here: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2018/0223/latest/


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 (now extended to 28 March 2024)
  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.

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 contact@abuseincare.org.nz.  There are some frequently asked questions here to help provide more clarity on the changes.


What time period can be investigated?

The Royal Commission is open to hearing from all survivors of abuse in case, including whānau of survivors and people that worked in either state or faith-based institutions. We can hear about experiences from any period in time through to the present day. (The Inquiry has a discretion to hear experiences before 1950 and after 1999, subject to the factors below.) 

Because the main focus in the Terms of Reference is the period 1950-1999:

    • We can conduct detailed a examination of institutions, actions or omissions relating to abuse in care between 1950-1999, as well as current redress processes.
    • We can also make specific findings about those things.
    • We can make recommendations to ensure the failures and deficiencies of the past do not continue in the future.  For that purpose, we can inform ourselves about current settings, policies, legislation so that our recommendations relate to the current world and are well-founded. 
    • In other words, we can take current (post-1999) experiences into account in developing our recommendations for the future.
    • We can also make specific findings and recommendations about current redress processes
    • What we cannot do is conduct a detailed examination of current (post-1999) care settings, policies or legislation, or make specific findings about them,

In relation to making puretumu torowhānui, or holistic redress, recommendations in our case studies, interim reports or final report:

    • Our Dec 2021 interim report to the Governor-General sets out the overall system and scheme in a series of 95 recommendations  
    • We can add recommendations that are consistent with the overall system and scheme from our Dec 2021 interim report in our case studies and interim reports that are to be delivered later this year and in 2023
    • Any proposed puretumu torowhānui, or holistic redress, recommendations that are considered by the Programme Steering Committee (PSC) to be inconsistent with the system and scheme should only be included in the final report. 


Terms of Reference as at 8 September 2023

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