This page offers information for survivors of abuse in State care. It includes general advice on how to lodge claims for historical abuse, obtain personal records or report concerns.

Advice to obtain personal records, access the Survivor Experiences Service and about our ways of working with you is also available. See our Alternate formats page.  

This information is about support available from a range of government agencies. It is does not include support options provided by the Royal Commission directly. For more information on these options, visit the Royal Commission’s website(external link).


Making a claim

You can make a claim of abuse or neglect if you:

  • were in the care, custody, guardianship, or came to the notice of the Child Welfare Division, the Department of Social Welfare, the New Zealand Children and Young Persons Service or Child, Youth and Family before 1 April 2017, and
  • believe you were harmed as a result of abuse or neglect while in care.

For more information, including how you can start the claims process, please go to the Ministry of Social Development, Historic Claims web page.(external link)

If you believe you were abused or neglected at a residential special school run by the Department of Education before 1989, you can make a historic claim with the Ministry of Education.

For more information, please go to the Ministry of Education’s historic claims web page.(external link)

If you believe you were abused or neglected at a former psychiatric institution, you can make a historic claim with the Ministry of Health.

For more information, please contact the Ministry of Health Historic Abuse Resolution Service.(external link)


Requesting personal records

Read our how to request records guide to find out how to obtain copies of government agencies records.

Our agencies' records list will help you identify which agency (or agencies) you need to get in touch with to request them. You will need to contact each agency who holds your records directly. 

When asking for information, be specific about what you are looking for – for example, dates spent in care in a particular place. This will help an agency find other agencies that may hold information about you.

What to expect

You may need to ask more than one government agency for your records. This is because information may be held by more than one agency. 

You can expect to:

  • be asked for proof of your identity, usually a passport or a New Zealand driver’s licence
  • receive confirmation that your request has been received
  • have the agency respond within 20 working days of your request being received
  • have an arranged delivery if it’s being sent by courier, or be given a timetable for delivery - this may be because time is needed to access files or in same cases be reviewed by a judge.

Be aware, not all government records are available. Some may be missing or incomplete.

Sometimes agencies you have dealt with may have patchy records. This can be because records:

  • were not kept
  • were destroyed as part of past record keeping practice
  • may have been lost (especially if they are very old).

Information about other people

Personal information about other people may be blanked out from your records.

If you are asking for information about someone else (such as member of your whānau), you will have to meet extra requirements.  The agency will discuss these requirements with you, since different laws may apply.

See agency contact details

Concerns about an agencies response

You have the right to ask for a copy of any personal information government agencies hold about you. The Privacy Act 1993 is the main law that sets out your rights to your information.

If you have any concerns about a government agency’s response to your request, you can complain:

  • directly to the agency, using the complaints process available on the agency’s website
  • to the Privacy Commissioner, if your feel your privacy has been interfered with
  • to the Ombudsman about agencies’ decisions.


Need help now?

These services are available if you have concerns about someone’s current care or situation:

  • Police on 111 (if someone is in immediate danger)
  • Oranga Tamariki on 0508 326 459 (for children at risk)
  • Health and disability advocates on 0800 555 050 (for problems with health and disability services)


Related documents

Crown Confidentiality Waiver

This waiver of confidentiality applies to sharing information about your settlement agreement with the Royal Commission.

Crown Confidentiality Waiver [DOCX, 27 KB]

Related pages

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