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Historic Abuse - Make a claim

It’s important to us that claimants have full details about the claims process. We have now released the updated September 2020 MSD Historic Claims Business Process and Guidance Handbook providing more detail about the claims process. This replaces the revised version we published in July 2020. If you have any questions about your claim, please contact us on 0800 631 127.

If you feel you have been unjustly treated while in the care of the Child Welfare Division, the Department of Social Welfare, the New Zealand Children and Young Persons Service, or Child, Youth and Family please talk to us.

If you have concerns about your time in care with Oranga Tamariki please contact Oranga Tamariki.

Who can make 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.

How do I start the claim process?

There are several ways you can register your claim with us. Either by:

You can also speak with a lawyer to get their assistance to make a claim. They will be able to let you know if you can get legal aid.

If you have questions about your time in care, please talk with us before you decide if you want to make a claim.

It’s important to tell us everything that happened to you

It is important that you have told us everything you are able to about your concerns about your care experience before we start assessing your claim. Take time to be sure you cover all that happened to you before letting us know that you want your assessment to go ahead.

This is because if we offer a payment at the end of the assessment process and you accept it, we will ask you to sign a document called a Settlement Agreement. This is a full and final settlement of your claim and means that you can’t make any other claims to the government in the future for any of the time you were in care.

If we do make an offer, we want you to be sure about whether to accept it or not and suggest you take some time to think about your decision. We also suggest that it is a good idea to get some legal advice before making a final decision or you may want to talk to a family/whānau member or a trusted friend. If you want to get some legal advice we will help you with some of that cost.

What happens when I make a claim?

When you first contact us, we will go through the claims process and answer any questions you have. We will also help you with support you may need while your claim is happening

You can have a copy of your personal files from your time in care and we will arrange this for you. Some information in your file may be blacked out as required under the Privacy Act 1993, for example private information about other people. You can also talk to us if you have any questions about your file or what happened during your time in care.

When you want to go ahead with your claim, we will make a time to talk to you about starting the claim process.

Meeting to make a claim

This first discussion is for you to tell the Ministry about your experience and is the same whether you make a claim with the Ministry or through your lawyer.

We’ll listen to you about your experience; usually in person but sometimes by phone or video. Talking about difficult things that have happened in the past can be upsetting so please let us know how we can make that conversation as simple as possible for you.

The meeting will be held at a time and place which works for you and will be respectful of your culture and values. You are welcome to have some support with you. This could be, for example, your partner, friend, family or whānau member, counsellor or lawyer.

We will also give you an idea of how long the claim will take.

Assessing your claim

The assessment confirms your involvement with State care, including if the State was legally responsible for you at the times your claim covers.

As part of this assessment we always review your personal files. A full review of other relevant records is not carried out for every concern you raise; however some concerns may require a more detailed assessment.

Results of the assessment

When the assessment is finished, we will give you general feedback gathered from reviewing your file.

At this meeting we may discuss with you a payment offer.

You can take as long as you need to think about this offer and choose if you want to accept it or not.

You may choose to seek legal advice.

We may also offer you an apology from our Chief Executive.

If you accept the offer

If your offer included a payment, we will arrange for payment to be made and close your claim.

An apology

Our Chief Executive may want to apologise to you. We will talk to you about this at the time.

If you don’t accept the offer

If you don’t accept our offer, we will talk to you about what other options are available, including asking for a review of the decision.

We will talk with you about this and how long it may take.

You may also choose to seek legal advice.

Criminal investigations

If your complaint is about criminal conduct then the Ministry may, after making sure we are legally able to, share information about the alleged offending with the Police. If you would like the Police to investigate what happened to you, we would encourage you to contact them. We will help connect you with someone there you can share your experience with.

What will you do with the information I share with you?

The information you give us is collected and held by the Ministry so we can assess and respond to your claim of abuse while in the care of the state before 2008. As part of the assessment process we may share your information or make contact with other government agencies or Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who were involved in your care.

We may also need to share your concerns with Oranga Tamariki or an NGO if your concerns relate to a current staff member employed by one of those organisations. We want to ensure children receiving care in services today are kept safe.

If you have any concerns about your information being shared, for example if you are concerned that this may put you at risk in any way, please let us know so we can talk with you about this and what we can do to address your concerns.

Our Privacy factsheet "Your information is important" provides you with more information about why we collect information and what we will do with it.

You can find our full privacy statement on our website or ask us and we will send a copy to you.

Can I stop my claim at any time?

You can put the assessment of your claim on hold at any time. This means we will not do any further work to progress your claim. This hold can be removed at any point if you change your mind.

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

The Royal Commission held its State Redress Hearing in two sessions with evidence from survivors of abuse from 21 September to 6 October 2020, and witnesses for the Crown from 19 October to 3 November 2020. As part of this hearing they asked us to provide them with a large number of supporting documents.

The Royal Commission began its Faith-Based Redress Hearing on 30 November 2020, with the first part, evidence from survivors, ending on 11 December. The second part, which is scheduled to run from 22 March 2021 – 1 April 2021, will hear evidence from witnesses from the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Salvation Army.

The Royal Commission’s Interim Report, which provides a progress report on work to date, an analysis of the size of the care cohorts for State and faith-based care, and some interim findings, was released publicly on 16 December 2020.

The Inquiry is looking into how claims are resolved, which may result in possible recommendations for improvements to our service in the future.

You can proceed with a claim against the Ministry while also taking part in the Royal Commission process. You do not have to put your Ministry claim on hold while the Royal Commission is sitting.

Sharing information with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions

As part of our commitment to supporting the Royal Commission of Inquiry we are legally required to share information with them when we are asked. To prepare for its hearing on state redress for historic abuse claimants, and for ongoing investigation, the Royal Commission requested a number of documents from us, some of which may include details about claimants and their settlements.

Protecting your privacy

The Royal Commission shares our commitment to protecting people’s privacy throughout the Inquiry’s proceedings. It has issued a legal order stopping public access to any of these documents without its permission, including any personal information that may be in them. This does not mean the Inquiry will not use this information to do the work required by its Terms of Reference, but if it does it will carefully balance public interest against the protection of an individual’s privacy. We would prefer that personal information is only released with the consent of the individual named.

Q&As on sharing information with the Royal Commission of Inquiry

Q. Can I get hold of any information about me that’s in these documents, and how do I do that?

A. Yes – you have the right under the Privacy Act to see any personal information we hold about you. You cannot get the information from the Royal Commission – however you can make requests under the Privacy Act by getting in touch with the Historic Claims team on 0800 631 127, by email or writing to us at PO Box 1556, Wellington 6140. Requests can also be made through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, in writing to PO Box 10-094, Wellington 6143, by email or on their website

Q. How do I know that my information will be protected?

A. The Royal Commission shares our commitment to protecting people’s privacy throughout the Inquiry’s proceedings. It has issued a legal order stopping public access to any of these documents without its permission, including any personal information that may be in them.

Q. Why didn’t Historic Claims ask my permission before passing on my information?

A. Government agencies are legally required to pass on any information they hold if asked by the Royal Commission. With the large volume of information requested and the tight timeframes for responding, it was not possible to let individuals know about the request and what information we were passing on.

Q. I work for a non-government organisation. Can I obtain any information about my NGO that’s in these documents?

A. If you work for a non-profit organisation you have the right under the Official Information Act to request any of your information held by government agencies. You can get this information by making an Official Information Act request. You can make a request to us at The request cannot be sent to the Royal Commission.

Q. What types of personal information have been provided to the Royal Commission?

A. Some of the documents may include personal information about claimants, caregivers, staff and others involved in allegations of abuse by the State and subsequent claims processes. As outlined above, steps have been taken to ensure your personal information remains secure.

Q. Do the files include information or allegations about current or former staff or caregivers?

A. As the Royal Commission’s focus is on understanding people's experiences and their interactions with agencies, some information about current or former staff or caregivers is included in the material provided to the Royal Commission. Staff are encouraged to contact the MSD Response team at if they have any questions.

We are committed to getting this right

We want to make sure that anyone who makes a claim with us gets the best possible service.

We will be continuously looking at how we can make the process work better for everyone.

Email us if you have any thoughts or suggestions on how we can improve things.

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Brochure - What happens when I make a claim

Oct 2019

Process chart - What happens when I make a claim

Oct 2019

Register your claim of abuse in State care

Handbook - MSD Historic Claims Business Process and Guidance

Sep 2020

Historic Claims privacy fact sheet - Your information is important

Jul 2020

Privacy Statement Historic Claims

Jul 2020

Q&A: Transferring responsibility of claims from Oranga Tamariki to MSD’s Historic Claims team

Oct 2019

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