Legal age guidelines

Legal age guidelines

We get frequent email enquiries from worried parents wondering what the safe legal age is for their child to do certain things in New Zealand.

In response to these requests we created this quick reference list for parents of New Zealand children showing the minimum Legal Age for Activities between ages 5 to 25 years.

If you want to know what the law says about the age you can legally leave children at home alone, check out our article At what age can I leave my children home alone?.

 Ages         Activities
   5            starting school (earliest age)
   6            starting school (latest age)
   7            starting school (latest age if the child must walk more than 3 km to school)
   14          babysitting — a babysitter’s minimum age
   14          leaving a child alone in your house
   16          getting a learner’s driving licence
   16          leaving school (earliest age)
   16          living with a partner
   16          to leave home without parental consent
   16          age of consent for sex
   16          deciding on which parent to live with (if separated)
   16          parental consent is required for medical/dental treatment
   16          starting full time work
   16          getting a tattoo
   16          getting married or having a civil union (with parents’ consent)
   17          getting a full driving licence
   17          joining the Navy, Army, Airforce without parental consent
   18          getting married or having a civil union (without parents’ consent)
   17          buy a Daily Keno ticket
   18          buy a Lotto ticket
   18          can be legally independent of their parents’ guardianship
   18          enter into contracts
   18          buying alcohol
   18          drinking alcohol
   18           buying cigarettes
   18           buying firecrackers
   18           opening a cheque account, applying for credit card
   18           borrowing money
   18           joining the Police Force
   18           electoral voting
   18           making a Will
   19           the right to free education ends
   20           if adopted applying to Births Death and Marriages for a copy of the birth  certificate (to find out birth parents)
   20           adopting a child if they are related.
   25           adopting a child – if the child is at least 20 years younger.
   20           enter a casino

You may also want to read At what age can I leave my children home alone?. Or for more expert parenting advice check out our Grown ups: Parenting section.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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  • Godzone?Whatever.

    So in this country you can leave home, without parental consent, when aged 16, but parents remain legal guardians (with all responsibility) for a further two years until the child’s eighteenth birthday … ridiculous and pathetic.

    • sajdlkjsad

      isn’t it so in most countries though? that you can leave home, however, until 18 years of age, your parents are still responsible, unless you get emancipated?

  • wendy

    legal age for child deciding which parent to live with

    • Hi Wendy,

      A child can decide this for themselves at 16.



  • teenmum

    why do parents have to except this? i think 16 is not old enough to get up one day and say..oh yes im 16 i am moving out!!im not sure how other parents feel,but im not happy with that!! mine started playing up knowing that we cant do a thing..and as a mother i am very upset with the goverment for lack of parent support..Cant buy smokes,cant go to the bottlestore,cant buy a lotto, but oh i can move out and have sex they r still babys at 16!

    • Curious Nigga

      Although it is hard seeing your child grow up, it is important to know that they no longer are little children and that they are matured young adults.

      • Marquis

        At 16? You must still be young because on reflection, 16 year olds are not mature, despite them wanting to think they are. Still a lot of life learning to do.

        • john

          At sixteen they can rob and steal and be violent yet the police cant do anything the laws is a joke they can get away with anything theses days

      • lovin’MUM

        My daughter is doing this to and i have found out that she is going to move out to live with her boyfriend when she turns 16. What makes them mature, because you have said they are. We all can agree that maturity comes with living and if you do the math they have only being doing things for themselves from the age of 14 when we had confidences enough in them to leave them alone for the night. So this tells me that it takes 2 years to become a mature adult. What total and utter nonsense, for a caring parent we haven’t a foot to stand on to keep them safe according to our laws.

  • still confused

    At what age can they walk to school or the dairy alone, legally? Or go downtown with their mates but no adult?

  • atanui

    my partner kicked my youngest daughter 16 out of home . She was living with her boyfriend for a few months until my partner wanted her back , but she did not want to come back home . My partner went to police because she would not come back home . Then his other idea was to send her to a foster home . Which made it even worse because I at the time agreed with foster home . Since that did not work out because she never turned up to the meeting we had sent her to Australia and she has been there for a year . She is still with her boyfriend . I don’t know if I made the right choices .

    • Leelee

      Your partner is a doosh and shouldnt be making decisions for YOUR child if he is not the father. Based on you letting him do that, i cant really blame her for leaving.

  • andy

    Hi the lotto nz web site says there is no age limit for playing lotto ,Keno or bullseye but 18 yrs to buy Instant Kiwi.

  • June

    How old can you stay in hotel with a friend?

    • Hi June, It can depend on the hotel. Some places require you to be over 18 to stay there without a parent or guardian.



  • Elena

    Hi, so just to be sure, a 16year old can move out of home without parents consent?? E.g If I was 16, I could move in with my boyfriend and my mum couldn’t stop me?

    • Hi Elena,

      At age 16 a young person can leave home without their parents’ consent. But until 17, Child, Youth and Family can send the child home if they believe they’re at risk. Don’t forget that you also need to be able to support yourself and will not be eligible for a benefit.

      • Elena

        But what if I’ve been already been seen by Child Youth and Family before and they’ve seen what my mum is like? And they know what she has done to us in the past? Theoretically.. Can they send you back home then? Even though your in a safer environment?

        • Hi Elena,

          It’s really impossible for me to say what CYF might do in any particular situation. If you have a case worker, it would be best to talk to them. Good luck!


      • Jo-Anne Clark

        the child won’t be eligible for a benefit until they turn 18, and CYFS send children out of family care homes when they turn 17… it kinda defeats the purpose of care and protection if they are sending them away with no way of supporting themselves doesn’t it

      • Doje Vega

        Hi kiwi family
        Just wondering what’s the age to start dating in nz say if I wish to date someone over 18 to 25 is that legal ?

        • KF

          Hi Doje, there is no law to prevent you from dating someone at a certain age. The age of sexual consent in New Zealand is 16. There are also certain restrictions that apply regarding ages and relationships in some situations (for instance a student and a teacher). Other than that, the law doesn’t get involved. — Jarrod.

  • tonz

    I know the age for baby sitting is 14 but how long could you leave them alone in the house with younger siblings. And if you was too leave them over night known that your oldest son is capable are cops able to take your children away if something was to go wrong during the night.

  • Liminoid

    There is no age restriction on purchasing a Lotto ticket and the age for leaving a child at home alone is an insurance industry recommendation, not a ‘legal age’… cheers

  • 2nd time

    So a child can babysit all of a sudden even though they have only just legally reached the age at which they can be left unattended??
    Unbelievable. They are free to wander the streets at 12 but not to stay at home safe and sound?

    • 2nd time

      Two years later that can move out!!?! Anyone else think that’s a little crazy?

  • Richard

    Hi, the 12 point is incorrect. (parental consent needed for medical/dental treatment). At 16 you can make all of your own health decisions. You have the right to refuse treatment from medical professionals independently. If you are under 16 your parents make those decisions on your behalf.
    I work in the medical field.

    • Rico

      You’re partly right. At 16 you can consent to/decline treatment regardless of your parent’s wishes. Parents will usually be involved in decisions before a child turns 16, but there is a sliding scale of competence – medical professionals are supposed to allow a child to make their own decisions if they are deemed competent to. (This right is protected under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is part of what is called the ‘Gillick’ test of competence).

      • Jo-Anne Clark

        girls as young as 13 are being taken by school counsellors to have abortions and be put on the pill without any parental consent in New Zealand. I feel this is a joke when a child up until the age of 16 can’t even have minor surgery without a parents ok yet a thing as major as an abortion is seen as not requiring a parents knowledge O.o

  • Rose

    Hi just wondering about when collecting/picking up a preschooler/toddler from daycare – what age should a child be?

  • jade

    can you leave home before 16 with parental permission

  • Annie

    so child cannot buy property if under 18 even though has enough money for a deposit. Can child sign contract together with parent, ie joint names for the house purchase?

    • Yep You Can

      Any person has the right to buy land, and yes they can sign a contract together with a parent or guardian.

  • Anon

    16 and can move out. I know parents that got legally emancipated and were going to bars at 14. My parents have some fucked stories. And what if home is not the safest place for them?

  • Katy

    Leaving home at 16
    can my father stop me?

    • Hi Katy, Your parents still have a legal responsibility for you until you are 18 but there is some grey area around this. If you want some more advice on this, you could try the Office of the Commissioner of Children: Good luck, Rochelle

  • PJ

    hi. just a quick question. at what age can an older sibling (19yo) become the legal guardian of a younger sibling (7yo) if something has happened to their parents. so does the older sibling get the child first if able to care for the child.

    • Hi PJ,

      It’s not really possible to say as it depends on a number of factors. For example, if the parents have died, it may depend on their will. If you’ve got questions, you could try contacting your local community or family law centre. Good luck! Rochelle

  • Sam

    HEY I was wondering how old you have to be to start flatting????

    • Hi Sam, there’s no age as such but you do need to be 16 to leave home without parental consent

  • anonymous

    how old do you have to be to have an eftpos????????

    • Hi there, this varies from bank to bank but is usually 12 or 13.

  • iesha3135

    Hi, i just wanted to know if i can move out and stay with my boyfriend…I’m 16. And his family are really nice and said I’m allowed…my parents are always shouting at me everyday and I’ve got depression and they don’t help at all. They are jw’s so they have very strong beliefs…they’ve never let me celebrate anything and its awful living in the same house as them all I feel I do is cry…but my boyfriend and is family are really nice and said they would look after me..

    • Hi iesha,

      Sorry to hear that you’re having a tough time. At 16, you are legally entitled to leave home; however, your parents are legally responsible for you until you are 18 and you need to have a plan about how you are going to support yourself. Good luck – I hope things get easier.

  • kingkapisi

    so im 16 and i can get a tattoo without my parents consent?

  • Judy

    Could a child aged 17 travel to Australia for a week or two with out parental consent?? (Staying with friends over the age of 18)

    • Hi Judy, there are a few factors involved in this but if they have the money and a passport then it may be difficult to stop them.

  • lala

    This may not be related to any of this but what are the laws surrounding child bedroom requirements and what age are children allowed to sleep in sleepouts or cabins unnacompanied if right next to parents outside room?

  • Kylie Hickey

    What to do if you find out a 14 year old has been left home alone for a number of nights while the caregiver is out of town – and none of the family knew about it?

  • Lani

    Hi, I am 17 and my partner and I are looking for a hotel, he’s 18. Would I be able to go and stay with him even though I’m not 18?

  • Hazel

    Can I move overseas eg Australia without parental consent at 16?

    • Hi Hazel, You’re legally under your parents guardianship until you are 18 – so probably not.

  • Ashleigh

    Tattoo at 16?

  • Rikelle

    How do I emancipate myself from my mother? I’m 14 years old and I want to live with my nan

    • Hi Rikelle, A good starting place would be to talk to your guidance counsellor at school. Good luck!

  • Karen Harkness

    Hi, We (Father, Stepmother) have a just turned 14 year old which we share custody of with her mother a week on a week off. This has worked well and never had a problem. She has decided though that she wants to live with her mum as her ‘base’ which has devestated us. Is it true that she can’t make that decision until she is 16, and therefore the status quo should remain until then?

    • Hi Karen, Sounds like you’re in a tough situation! The decision-making depends upon the legal status of her custody. If you have a parenting order in place, then this requires changing in order to change this. It’s worth mentioning, however, that your step-daughter’s wishes are a really important part of this. I’ve know children who find it quite unsettling to be constantly moving between houses and it’s worth having a conversation with your step-daughter to hear a bit more about what she is thinking. Good luck with this!

  • zak

    So at 16 you’re legally aloud to get a tattoo without parent consent. I’m in napier at the moment so does that still apply

    • Hi Zak, Often tattoo artists will want your parent’s permission if you’re under 18 – but it’s up to the individual person.

  • Joann Sumner

    what is the legal age of a child to decide to live with it biological parent if not adopted but living with family members

    • Hi Joann – that would depend on whose legal custody the child is in. If they are legally in their parents’ custody, then there is no legal age. If they are not in the legal custody of their parents then a custody order would need to be obtained if they are under 18.

  • Karen Bayne

    Hi, just wondering what age is legal to send kids down to the dairy or walk the dog around the block by themselves (no adult)?

    • Hi Karen, Have a look at this article – it (sort of!) answers your question 🙂

  • Tia

    What is the legal age that you can move back to the country you were born in?
    And if your underage can you move back with another family member?

  • Robyn Champion

    Hi, Major problem. My 16yr old son looked up on the internet, found out he can move out at 16 without consent. He has a good home/family life, still wants to stay at school, but will not do simple things like tidy his room, make his bed, put his washing out, do dishes that his chores. We run him everywhere, give him money when he wants it. On special occasions we let him have a couple of 2% beers, let him go to the occasion party (we like to pick him up and drop him off though) He is not allowed spirits, drugs, smoke. We like to know where he is, if he has a girlfriend and her parents agree, she can come and stay. He has got it in his head that by law he can move out at 16. He wont say why. He believes he does not have to tell us where he would be living. He has no idea how he will be able to support himself financial. We earn too much money for him to get a benefit. He can go flatting apparently but can’t sign a tenancy agreement until 18, which means he would be flatting with much older kids. If he goes to a friends house, he will have to pay board, where does that money come from? I can understand kids move out of abusive, violent homes etc, and having a few rights, But not a kid from a good home, with support. We have been taking him to counselling, but he google when can he move out. All that comes up is. You can move out at the age of 16 without parents consent. Nothing about financially supporting yourself, or being in a safe place, or letting your parents know where you are.

    • Hi Robyn, Sounds like you are having a tough time with your son. Unfortunately, I can’t offer a great deal of advice; except to say that you are correct in that if he moves out, he will need to support himself. Perhaps experiencing the reality of this will help him to clarify what he wants. Have you considered going to counselling together? I hope you are able to work through this with your son. Kind regards,

  • Micheal

    So wait, how would you be able to leave home at 15 to live with a friend and their family when you know it’s in your best interest and the friends family agree to let you move in but you 15 ?

  • Teen drinking grinch

    Hi. My only just 16 year old son is desperate to start drinking at parties. He has been to two so far and hasn’t drunk (supervising adults confirm this…and I trust he is telling the truth). Trouble is, he’s desperate to start which is ringing alarm bells. He is a good kid and for the most part makes good decisions. I just still think he’s too young to drink. Why doesn’t anybody want to challenge our teen drinking culture??? The two parties he has been to, literally hundreds of teenagers have all been drinking. It makes me sad.

  • Lana

    Is there any law regarding step children of the opposite seed sharing a bedroom?

    • Hi Lana – no law 🙂

      • Teresa

        Hi Rochelle, so say two sisters and a step brother share a room no one from CYFs will come knocking and say the law has been broken?…. I have heard so many conflicting things, can you please give me a few links so I can do my own investigating? Many thanks 🙂

        • Hi Teresa,

          I’ve asked a couple of lawyers and they’re all in agreement that no law exists about this. It’s tricky to point you to links, as our law isn’t written to cover everything that people could ever do or not do. If you’re concerned about CYFs, the best thing to do is give them a call and get their input. Kind regards, Rochelle

  • ThatJinxedYuki

    When is the legal age to be able to leave the country and Migrate there without parents consent?

  • Jo-Anne Clark

    so let me get this straight, legally a child up until the age of 16 has to get parental consent for a medical procedure, yet schools are taking girls as young as 13 to have abortions or even to go on the contraceptive pill without getting any parental consent… and this is encouraged because it is a girl’s right to decide about her own body… how can this be right if they are supposed to need parental consent for medical procedures??

  • Annuska

    Is there a law in regards to boys and girls sharing rooms? We have 3 kids here.1yr old girl, 4yr old boy and 9yr old this stage the girls share but to be honest id prefer the 9 n 4 yr old to share (half brother and sister) as baby still doesnt sleep through night an 9yr old very hard to get out of bed in morning so baby is always woken up because if this.wouldnt be able to put 4 yr old in with 1 yr old as he would be 2 noisy

  • paul morris

    Hi what age is a youth aloud to be released from cyfs care? My friends son has left his care givers he made the choice to leave due to abuse going on in the household since the incident he has been pleading with his mum to help him come home to her she has been on the phone to cyfs trying to get him back he has had thoughts of suicide because he no one is listening to his needs and wants he is very close to his mother and all he wants is to go home, she is a mess as she doesnt know what to do she is torn between her son and doing what is right by cyfs, cyfs have had the young man assessed by mental health and he is clinically depressed this could be all sorted by releasing him back to his mother, but as usually they are not listening to the young mans needs or wants, when will they listen to his needs? When hes 6 feet under, he is 16 years old and wants to go home to his mum at this moment she is tempted to bring him home, please can u shed sone light on this situation

  • Amelie

    hi, so I’m an orphan and have been looked after by my older sister since about 2. Im now 17 and not happy with the way she treats me (physically and mentallly) and i was looking to change her guardianship to someone else so i can live with them and they get the unsupported childs benefit. how would i go about doing this?

  • Kylie Fowler

    No age limit on buying lotto or keno or big wednesday etc. Need a guardian to claim a prize over $1000 though. Only an age limit on scratchies

    • leyanna

      There is an age limit on lotto. To buy it you have to be over the age of 18.

      • Kylie Fowler

        My earlier statement is correct. As per the FAQ page

        “There is no age limit for playing Lotto, Bullseye, Keno or Play 3.
        Instant Kiwi is restricted to people aged 18 years or over, and is
        currently only available from Lotto New Zealand retail stores.”

        Only Instant Kiwi has an age limit to purchase.

  • Caitlyn

    I’m 15. My situation at home isn’t good, being abused, also having depression makes it worse. I really want to leave home asap but I can’t support myself financially, I have a friend in Wellington that could help out but he lives up there and I live down here in Nelson. What do I do? Please help.

    • Zeeva117

      Hi, because you’re 15 not 16 you can’t legally leave your parents’ house to go do your own thing just yet. But as you’re being abused you can leave and go into foster care like I did. When you’re 16-17 though you can get what’s called the Youth Payment. It’s financial support for teenagers who have good, sensible reasons to not live with their parents. Also, you could get help for costs of counselling, which is a big help for a lot of people, and I’d really recommend you look into it. I hope this info helps and that you can get out of your situation at home real fast 🙂 Goodluck.

  • Ash

    Okay , just to say that if you’re about to turn 18 in just a few weeks , you still have to full be 18 in order to be in a civil union with your parents permission ? This is ridiculous .. Like , you’re 18 in less than a month but don’t have this right and when your 18, you’re suddenly in charge of your entire lives decision ..

  • Carlos Jay

    Hey I am 15 am I aloud to go after school sport or even hang out with friends next door

  • Neak

    What does it mean leave home without consent from your parent ? Does it mean step out the house? Or move out? And what ages can 16 year olds date?

    • Hi Neak – no, it means to live away from your parents. There’s no legal age for dating.

      • Neak

        Well I’m 16 . Who do I have the right to stay with? And I’m saying for the age of 16 is there an limit on the dating of any individual?

        • Hi Neak – I’m not sure what you are asking here – what do you want to do?

          • Neak

            I want to leave home . How do I do that ??

          • Hi Neak – if you are going to leave home, you need to have a way to support yourself.

          • Neak

            Okay good. If someone has a descent living I stay with us that ok??

  • Jannat

    Im 18 amd i want to leave my house i pay for everything and have nothing left for myself and i get shouted at all the time. I don’t want to tell them i just want to pack few things and leave. Is that possible and do i have to contact Any sort of child support as im 18 and an adult

    • Hi Jannat – it sounds like you have a tough time. If you are 18, you are not entitled to any child support; however, you are also allowed to legally leave home without your parents’ permission. Kind regards, Rochelle

      • Jannat

        So i can just leave without saying anything?

        • Hi Jannat – legally, in New Zealand, yes (I’m not sure what country you are in). However, you will need to be clear about how you support yourself financially and also understand that this may have an impact on your relationship with your family. Have you tried talking to your family about how you feel?

          • Jannat

            Its same in the uk 18 u can aswell..
            I can support myself i have somewhere where i can live, i did try to talk to them but was no hope and every time i come back from work just give me stress

          • Jannat

            Its same in the uk 18 u can aswell..
            I can support myself i have somewhere where i can live, i did try to talk to them but was no hope and every time i come back from work just give me stress

          • Jannat

            Its same in the uk 18 u can aswell..
            I can support myself i have somewhere where i can live, i did try to talk to them but was no hope and every time i come back from work just give me stress

      • Jannat

        So i can just leave without telling them?

  • Jake McNaughton

    Can a 16 year old go on a holiday abroad on their own without parental consent?

  • Corey

    Hi, I was wondering if a 17 yr old is legally aloud to move countries (to Australia) without parental consent

    • KF

      Hi Corey, people can choose to leave home from the age of 16 without parental consent. They are under legal guardianship until the age of 18, but people can apply for a passport, without parental consent, from the age of 17. I’d suggest they should get some specialist immigration advice, however, as there could be complications for immigrating — Jarrod

  • Phoebe

    hi so what would happen if my 13 year old was rapped and found out to be pregnant? what would happen to her and/or her baby

  • Evelyn Rapana

    Quick question if we left my partners 13 year old son at home at night for 4 hours with a phone to contact him on every half an hour or so is that alright or no ? He’s in high school and resposible and was told to lock all doors never answer if someone knocks and to stay in his room and lock his door

    • KF

      Hi Evelyn, it’s not up to us to say whether or not that’s alright. The law states you must provide ‘reasonable provision for the supervision of the child’ if they’re under 14. It’s yours and your partners responsibility to make sure he is well cared for, and supervised. What that looks like is over to you as the parent and guardians. — Jarrod

  • Unique Auditore-Tia

    Hi there,
    Is there a law for sellers to photo ID who I am with when I am buying cigarettes? The problem is I went to a supermarket to buy cigarettes, they asked for photo ID from not only me but also my partner and brother ( I was buying it for myself) and they wouldn’t sell it to me because my brother did not give photo ID and is 17 but me and my partner (both 18) provided ID, but why did they ID the whole lot of us? Its like a seller asking a mother for their children’s ID when they are buying a cigarette. Is that correct for them to do that?

    • KF

      Hi Unique, the Smokefree Environments Act prohibits sellers from selling tobacco products to under 18s. How sellers actually do this is totally up to them though. It’s the retailers decision as to who they sell
      any product to. Cheers — Jarrod

    • Te Aroha Irimakahw Warren

      It is correct.. It is illegal to give anyone under the age cigarettes in a public place..
      If you look under 25yrs old, expect to be asked for I.D
      If you are buying to give to a minor, expect to be denied..

  • liam

    hi Janet my names Liam I live with my father Davo and he abuses me. I was just wondering if io could leave and go stay with my mother fatty Temps in mexico with her 25 goats

  • Nina

    I’m 20, my dad is kicking me out and has given 4 weeks is this right? 4 weeks to find somewhere to live?

    • KF

      Hi Nina. Your Dad is only legally liable for you up until the age of 18. He is well within his legal rights to ask you to leave, and give you notice. But in terms of your personal relationship, this is something that you need to sit down and discuss together to work out a solution that works best for the both of you. — Jarrod

  • liz Parker

    can you tell me i have a grandson who is 14 living with his dad and step mum,his real mum died in a car crash 10 years ago her and my grandson were living with me at time of her deaith. my grandson is very close to me and wants to come and live with me and my two sons he cries himself to sleep at night gets very upset when he has to go home from us he gets very depressed has run away from home and came to my house but the police and his parents took him home again he cant talk to his dad and wife, but talks o me alot i am concerned about him his dad will not let him come to me where do i stand because of his age to stay and things are just getting worse thanks liz

    • KF

      Hi Liz, this isn’t something that we could advise you with online. If you’re at all concerned with the child’s welfare then you should raise this directly with his Father, the primary caregiver, as well as seek advise from an organisation that can help. I’d suggest trying for more info. — Jarrod

  • Maru Mehau

    If I was 16 years old and I dated someone who is 19-20 years old, is that a problem especially when you’re raised with a strict Polynesian family??

    • KF

      Hi Maru. We can only suggest what the legality of your situation is, not whether or not it’s right or wrong for your family, or your particular situation. There is no law in New Zealand that dictates dating. The legal age of sexual consent in New Zealand is 16, and there are rules in certain situations that prohibit certain relationships. More often than not, open communication is always the best way forward. — Jarrod

  • BoomSource

    I have a 16 year old who I reimburse (Rather than a wage) for his time and lunches. Does his mum have the right to determine where the money goes or does the 16 year old have the right to decide otherwise?

  • Azoemai

    If I am 16 and I have a long distance boyfriend who is 21. Is that legal or illegal?
    I know for him it’s legal for they have to be within 5 years or age and we meet that criteria so it’s legal there, just wondering about here and if he could be in legal danger to be in a relationship with me

  • Dianne Herrick

    Hi just wondering what age you have to be to go camping at a campsite with tents? There are three fifteen year old girls and one sixteen year old that would like to go, but unsure of the age stipulations?

    • KF

      Legally, this isn’t an issue Dianne. It will be a case of the maturity level of the teens, and your comfort level of their plans. Ultimately you’ll be responsible for their actions at the campsite. You may also find some campsites require parental consent for under 18s to make a booking — Jarrod

      • Dianne Herrick

        Thank you

  • Kelly


    Just wondering, is it legal for a 16 year old to have a sexual relationship with someone over 18 if they both consent?

    • KF

      Hi Kelly, the legal age of sexual consent in New Zealand is 16 years old. — Jarrod

  • Mems Jane

    Afternoon, I’m wondering if .. like .. I’m 16 soon to be 17, and nearly being employed. Would I have to pay my dad board as Ille probably get taken off his benefit. He has 4 other kids. He says that Ille have to pay my way etc.. but I don’t think he can do that cause I’m only 16 still living in our family home. Is it legal or illegal? I thought when your 18 you start paying board and paying your way etc…

    • KF

      Hi Mems. This is a tricky one. There’s nothing in the law that states you have to pay board at any age, or under any situation. Parents charging their children board once they start earning is fairly common practice though. With your Dad having 4 other mouths to feed, a small contribution towards household running costs wouldn’t be unreasonable; especially if you compare this with actual renting (you can check out the current rates at the Tenancy website So, it’s not a legal issue, it’s entirely something to negotiate between you and your Dad. — Jarrod

      • Hevyn Emery

        Definitely more of a moral issue than a legal one. You should appreciate the fact that your dad is trying to teach you about responsibility, helping out when and where you can and paying your way.
        Don’t gripe about it, be thankful that he is teaching you valuable lessons.

  • Eva

    So I know you can not buy alcohol until your 18 well legally anyway, i see up there your not allowed to drink it under 18 too is this so? legally and where can i get more legal info on that, my son is 16 and we do not allow or accept him drinking alcohol so he has left home to his grandmother my mum who supplies it and buys for him, what can i do? we cant make him come home its stupid how at 16 they can do what they want but we as parents legally responsible for them until theyre 18yrs old how does that work? so what can i do if myson is drinking alcohol and family members are supplying him with it?

  • Atalua S Fatai

    hi Im kinda planning ahead to introduce my young daughter 14yo to workforce and im thinking working at the foodstuff like cashier since shes good with numbers.Is this a good a idea?

    • KF

      Hi Atalua, an afterschool/weekend job is a great idea. It teaches crucial skills about the workplace, teamwork, leadership, etc. A cashier is a great idea and supermarkets are always hiring. Other ideas could be retail, open on weekends, or even a takeaways (a lot of people comment on the discipline taught at fastfood restaurants). Most places have a website that’ll tell you about their hiring process. For smaller places, the old fronting up with a CV in hand still works and really shows initiative, which all employers look for. Check out the Careers NZ site for tips: — Jarrod

  • Cath

    what age are you allowed to live in an apartment alone or renting a house at?

  • Cath

    what age are you allowed to live in an apartment alone or renting a house at?

  • Jemma Burden

    I am 18 years old and have moved out of home to go to University. Neither of my parents provide any financial support but in order to get a student allowance, my parents income is taken into consideration, if over a certain amount combined i am unable to get a student allowance. How can I get emancipated from my parents so they are no longer included in my finances. It seems crazy the government with holding from giving me an allowance when i receive no support from my parents.

  • Teresa

    Hi 🙂 how old is the recommended age for boy to sleep in his mothers bed? The child is 10

  • ŚàraVína Quan

    Hi Im 15 and i want to have a baby, me n my boyfriend (24 yrs old) already discuss where we’re gonna live and we planned everything and im mature enough to take care of myself and my little family … is it possible? is it possible if i can have a baby at the age of 15? Me and my boyfriend is going to do it this november im turning 16 next year 2018 so is it possible if me and my boyfriend can do it this november? #justwondering

  • Nicole

    Hi- not sure if this thread is still running but thought I would give it a shot. If, for eg, my child turns 18 and wants to leave the country, is there a way for me to stop her? ie I know my guardianship over her ends but is there any way to extend it?

    • KF

      Hi Nicole, in a word no. At the age of 18, a young person can legally enter into contracts, and can apply for their own passport, and overseas visas. Assuming they have the financial means to travel, there’s little to stop them heading off into the wide world. I think as a parent, all you can at this stage is support them in their decisions, provide what help you can, and be their for them when they need you (which they will). — Jarrod

      • Nicole

        Thanks Jarrod- so even if I have concerns for her safety and well-being, there is really nothing that can be done to get my guardianship extended/stop her from going overseas?

        • KF

          Hi Nicole, at 18 she’s legally free to do as she pleases, as long as what she’s doing isn’t illegal. If you’re concerned about her safety then your best recourse is to sit down with her and tell her your fears, and together work out a plan so that you can help keep her safe from a distance (regular email communication, emergency funds and phone numbers, etc.). If you push too hard, you may just push her away at this point. Open communication is really the key here. Best of luck — Jarrod.

          • Nicole

            Thanks Jarrod!

  • Nickeesha Laws

    so my little brother is 14 years old ive not long found out his father who he is not ment to be with has given him a tattoo when he was about 11 years old . is there anything I can do? myself/ our mother and other family members do not approve of this at all and believe its child abuse.

    • KF

      Hi Nickeesha. The law on tattoo’s in New Zealand is a little bit grey. In New Zealand if you’re under the age of 16 you require your parent’s consent to get a tattoo (in some cities the age is 18). So although it’s not illegal, it certainly is a little unusual. If you’re at all concerned for your brother’s safety, you, or your Mum, should get in touch with someone from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children for advice: — Jarrod

  • Hannah

    Hi there,
    I am writing a novel and I just can’t seem to find the information I need for one of the aspects of my story so I’m just wondering if you could point me in the right direction to find some answers to my questions?
    Here is a little background info on my novel:
    In my novel, my main character’s brother gets murdered and so the MC (Main Character) wants to get revenge and kill the person who murdered his brother.
    So after searching for a long time the MC finally finds out the whereabouts of a man who he believes murdered his brother so the MC designs a plan to kill the suspected murderer and he tells a trusted friend of his plans.
    The MC goes to the suspected murderer’s house but suddenly feels that he can’t kill the man, however just as he is trying to force himself to shoot the man, he hears police sirens and ends up shooting the man in a moment of panic. (The trusted friend called the police after the MC told the friend about his plan to kill the suspected murderer)
    The MC is fifteen and the story is set in New Zealand, so my questions are these: what would the police do with the MC when they find him? And what would the sentence be for a fifteen year old who tried to kill someone, ended up leaving the person with only a minor wound, and did it because he suspected the person of murdering his brother?
    Would he go to some sort of juvenile detention center? Would he end up in jail for attempted murder even considering why he did it?
    If you are unable to answer any of my questions or point me to someone who can, I understand and I am sorry for any inconveniences I may have caused.
    Thank you for your time.

    • KF

      Hi Hannah, our suggestion would be to try a community lawyer, at your local CLC. They should be able to give you a fairly good steer on what the likely judicial process would be in New Zealand: Best of luck with your book! –Jarrod

      • Hannah

        Oh okay, thank you very much 🙂

  • Arry

    Hi my name’s arry . I am 25 years old my gf is only 16 years old (but she looks like 22 ). Her family dont want us to be together and i am allowed to see her anymore . We are in love and we can’t live without each other and I wana marry her. Can she run away from her house and move with me ? Or is it illegal being with a 16 years old girl? Her dad threatened me that he will get me arrested. Please advice me what should I do . I can’t live her.

    • KF

      Hi Arry. The legal age of consent in New Zealand is 16, it’s also the legal age you can move out of home. So, no, you cannot be arrested. You can’t, however, legally get married until she turns 18, unless she has her parent’s consent. And that’s probably the important point here. The support of family is everything. She may feel like she doesn’t need her parents’ help right now. But she’s also very (very) young. A few year’s from now, she will totally need her family to support her. If you alienate her parents now, you risk this gift for her in the future. If you truely love her, then my advice is to proof your worth to her parents. Show them your true intentions. Show them you deserving of the daughter. Even if this means stepping back, and giving her some time and space to grow as a person. If it really is true love, then it will still be there a year or 2 from now. — Jarrod

      • Arry

        Thank you

  • Anna Horton

    so you can move out with parental consent at 15

    • KF

      Hi Anna. Well, technically, yes. We’d note though, children can’t be left unsupervised for an unreasonable amount of time under the age of 14. And parents are still responsible for their children until the age of 18. So moving out of home at the age of 15 might be considered unreasonable by many parents. — Jarrod

  • max ramen

    my mum works a week away from home and a week at home, i want to move in with her because i feel that my mental and emotional health is in danger while living with my dad. i’m sixteen and if i move in with my mum i will be spending every second week by myself at home (my dad and school and work is only a 10 minute walk away). is this legal? am i allowed to do this?

    • KF

      Hi Max, at 16 it is legal for you to be left at home unsupervised. Whether or not a 16 year old should be left at home by themselves for an entire week, is up to your parents to discuss and determine. Try and include your parents in the discussion at the same time, so that everyone can come up with an agreement that suits. — Jarrod

  • Gere Edwa

    Hey kiwi family if you are 21 and have kids you have the rights to leave your parents home right? The parents have no legal right over the individual and her kids or am I wrong?

    • KF

      Hi Gere, that’s correct, assuming you’re in New Zealand. You can legally leave home, without parental consent, at the age of 16. — Jarrod

  • Marster Sinclair

    Hello there.. what can I do as a parent if I want my son to play rugby league but the cost of the strips are too expensive .the team have a 5year contract with the tura printing company .what can I do to change that.thanks

  • Tamara Lomax

    Hiya, just wondering, I’m 16 and I want to move out of home to my partners; but to do that I need to move an hour and a half away. I don’t have the consent of my parents so I’m not sure if I can transfer schools. Can you please help me by telling me if this is possible?

    • KF

      Hi Tamara, if your issue is whether or not you can enrol in a new school, then you need to take that up with the school. If your address will be zoned for that school, then it would just be a case of enrolling. If the school needs parental consent to enrol, you’ll either need to get that, or approach the school Principal, or school support staff directly to discuss it. You also have the option of schooling by correspondence. As you probably know though, our advice is to always work on the communication with your family first. Even if you need to enlist a mediator to help (family, friend or professional). Just don’t burn those bridges. Best of luck. — Jarrod

  • Tremayne Thompson

    Hi Kiwi Families,

    so my dad and his girlfriend separated a few months after their baby was born. The now ex girlfriend of my dads is really psycho. My dad doesn’t know what to do. At what age could I, as the sibling of the child, go for custody for the baby.

    Thanks in advance

  • jonah

    Hi. Can a 16 year old stay in a hotel for a few nights without a parent or guardian? (not moving out, just with friends for holiday)

    • KF

      Hi Jonah, a 16 year old can legally stay away overnight without parental consent. However, parents are very much entitled to have household rules that are stricter than the law. Just note that a 16 year old’s parents are still legally responsible for them until they turn 18. — Jarrod

      • jonah

        Yes. Can you legally stay in a hotel without a parent – with consent of course. Do you have to be over 18 to stay in one? Do most hotels have strict rules against people under 18 staying overnight?

        • KF

          A 16 year old can legally stay in a hotel. But the hotel may require someone over the age of 18 to book and pay for the room (ie enter the contract). As with house rules though, a hotel can set whatever rules they like in their hotel. Best to check with the hotel first. — Jarrod

  • Torval Upheaval

    Hi. I was wondering if anyone could clarify something for me… so 16 is the age of concent for sex? I’ve lived in New Zealand my while life and always thought it was 18.

    I am 18 and my girlfriend is 16, so if we both concent, can we have sex? No stings attached? Like, does she still need her parents permission or something like that?

    Thank you

    • KF

      That’s correct, in New Zealand the legal age of consent for sex is 16.

  • Angela

    Can I legally leave my 14 year old in the care of my 18 year for 3 weeks.

    • KF

      Hi Angela, as far as the law is concerned, I don’t think this would be considered unreasonable, especially as your youngest is 14. As far as you’re concerned, you’ll know if your 18 year old has the maturity level to manage this or not. It’s the weekends that would need some strict ground rules in place. It might not be reasonable, for instance, for the 18 year old to go out partying with their friends and leave the 14 year old overnight. It’s that sort of thing you’d want to lock down with them both. — Jarrod

  • Julia

    Hi. I’m already 18 and I am about to leave home to stay with my partner and I am not even going to tell my parents. I still have to go to year 13 and have to enroll to a new school as im gonna move to another town. Do you think they will need my parents consent for me to enrol myself? I am not in good terms with my parents so I dont want them in this. thanks

    • KF

      Hi Julia, as an 18 year old you can legally enter into contracts, so I would assume that you can enrol yourself in the school without an issue. You’ll need to double-check with the school directly though. Most high school heads of staff will be back from the 22nd, if not even next week. I’d suggest getting a meeting with someone at the new school, sitting down with them, and making sure they understand your situation and needs. Hopefully you find the space you need to rebuild a bridge with your parents at some stage, as family will be so important in your future. Best of luck — Jarrod.

  • Paul Blackler

    Anyone know if there is a legal age for a child to train in a gym?

    • KF

      Hi Paul, not as far as we’re aware. There’s a legal age for signing the gym membership agreement. And each gym should have health and safety guidelines in place for different age groups, and will have their own internal age policy (often 12 and older, with some form of supervision required at most New Zealand gyms). But I don’t think the law would apply here, except from a health and safety view. — Jarrod

  • sha pragnell

    As a parent of a 16 year old, are you legally allowed to keep their money they have earned? Don’t let them have access to it?

    • KF

      Hi Sha, it’s not so much of a ‘legal’ issue here. Legally you’re responsible for your teen until they turn 18. And that responsibility includes looking after them financially. At the age of 16, a child should be learning about money, possibly earning their own money, and learning how to save and budget for small items they want. Of course, not all kids will make great decisions at this age, so you may want to help steer them through the money pitfalls. But just remember, if you do it all for them, then they don’t have the chance to learn anything. — Jarrod

      • sha pragnell

        Hi KF, I don’t do it all for them. Both teens have part-time jobs and have learnt to save for what they want and they both have done the 52 week savings challenge which they are doing it again this year. What I do, is I transfer money and leave them a certain amount for the week. If we travel away, money is transferred for them to spend (within reason of course). Just thought would ask. Thanls

  • Chevonne Taylor

    Hi, my younger half siblings were abused quite badly by their mother. They all currently live happily with our father, there are 6 of them from the age of 7-15. All of them do not like going to see their mother. 3 children go one Saturday and the other 3 go the next Saturday. My question is, when can they legally say “no I do not want to see my mother” and be listened to? All 6 of the children hate going to see their mum to the point where they will throw tantrums and get really upset and even run away from her house. The lawyers have said they “have” to see her but it seems wrong to me, especially when every single child is saying they hate going there…. Thanks

  • disqus_5EKXss2jE1

    Hi, so how is it that a child can decide to run away from home and move out from 16, but parents are still responsible? my stepson wants nothing to do with me and my husband, he made plans to stay with a family member on his mothers side, the mother has said yes but apparently now he can’t stay there or at his mums. We’ve handed care over to the mum and now she’s angry because we won’t make him live with us as she doesn’t want him (she blaming her husband) I don’t even know if this makes sense anymore.

    • KF

      Hi there. It sounds like a pretty complex situation, with lots of people involved, and lots of different things going on for people too. This isn’t something we can cover in the forums. I’d suggest you get in touch with a service provider to find out what help is available to you. You might like to try Parent Help, I know they have a freephone number for parents, it’d be a good place to start: — Jarrod

  • Yajaira

    I have 16 and I have a kid the thing is that I was living with my boyfriend we had a child and my mom moved away so I had to moved with her so my question is can I moved back with my baby father family or I can’t?

    • KF

      Hi Yajaira, at the age of 16 you can leave home without parental consent. Just be aware that your parents are legally responsible for you until the age of 18. You may find entering certain legal contracts, for instance, are difficult until you turn 18. And there will be a time in the future where you’ll need family support. Just keep that in mind as you make these important decisions for you and your child. — Jarrod

  • Mark Plumpton

    Is there a legal reason why 16 and 17yos can’t stay at backpackers? You can leave home but you don’t seem to be able to stay anywhere?

    • KF

      Hi Mark, there’s no legal reason as such. However, accommodation providers can set any policy rules they choose. And they may have a policy in place that anyone aged under 18 requires a parent or guardian to sign the contract. — Jarrod

  • Kaytlyn Kyle

    Hi I’m 16 and in foster care and I want to stay at my boyfriends house for as long as possible …
    1. How long can I stay
    2. Could I move in
    3. Do I need to talk to the police
    4. Who would get in trouble if I stayed over the time…

    • KF

      Hi Kaytlyn. Legally speaking at the age of 16 you can move out of home without parental (or guardian) consent. I don’t think this is a case of anyone getting into trouble. This is more a situation where everyone involved needs to get together and discuss this openly and honestly. Here’s a few things to consider. Don’t burn bridges. The people close to you were sent to guide you in this world, and a few short years from now you’ll need their support more than ever. Think carefully about why you want to move out, make a ‘pros and cons’ list. Moving out of home is expensive, full of extra responsibilities and may actually hold you back in life. What’s your real goal here? If it’s just to be closer, and spend more time with your boyfriend, can you negotiate that without totally changing your life? Talk with your foster parents, find out what their hopes and dreams for you are, and work on a solution together that tries to meet everyone’s goals. — Jarrod

  • Jo Wade

    I live in Australia and my son lives in NZ with his father. My sons father is not allowing him to visit and I have not been able to see him for two years. My now 14 year old son decided to stay with his father, on the promise from said father that he could come over and visit anytime (holidays and such). Due to having a child in school over here and a partner who does fly in fly out work on an irregular basis I am unable to get over there myself to see him. My son has voiced that he would like to spend a one year in Australia, one year in NZ schedule. I am of the understanding that a Childs lawyer could be appointed to him to possibly do this. I am not forcing my son into any decisions but I want him to be happy. He is scared about approaching his father about this issue, and I also believe is an unhealthy way for my son to be feeling and living. We moved to Australia as my partners family are over here, and his career are over here, and the economy and quality of life is much better for us. Not to mention I have a rather toxic family I am happy to stay away from. Is there anyone who could shed some light on this for me? I would very much like to help my son achieve this. I might add that there are no custody agreements in place at all, unless his father has filed them without any contact.

    • KF

      Hi Jo, you son’s father cannot refuse visitation with him. That said, your son’s idea of ‘one year in Australia, one year in New Zealand’ might not be the best arrangement either, especially with NCEA’s just around the corner. Also remember that ‘visitation’ can be as simple as a regularly scheduled Skype session. If your son is having difficulty raising the visitation issue with his father, and you’re struggling to formalise any sort of agreement, then you all may benefit from mediation services. Just note, if you want to go down the court route, you’ll need to apply to the New Zealand family court via the Australian family court system: — Jarrod.

  • Aeron Villejo

    can parents force to kick you out when you turn 18?

    • KF

      Hi Aeron, at the age of 18 your parents are no longer legally responsible for you. As it is their home you’re living in, unless you’ve signed a tenancy agreement with them, there’s no legal reason why they can’t ask you to leave. — Jarrod

  • Atharva

    So I am 13 and have visited Australia a couple of times.
    My parents and i dont….you know get along that well.
    I was planning on leaving my country, India and move to new New Zealand.
    I am a sport enthusiast that’s why I had chosen new Zealand and will probably get a job there in the water sport industry or any other low wage job, enough to support myself.
    Can you tell me a way to get through and whether I will be allowed

    • KF

      Hi Atharva, we would love to have you. New Zealand has a highly respected sporting sector, including: athletes, coaches, sport medicine, sport psychology and our recent investments into high performance sport. You have a number of options for immigration to New Zealand, although most would not be open to you until you turn 18. Some visa options include the Talent Sports Visa, Student Visa, or a study visa as part of your parent’s visa if they were immigrating too. Check it all out here: — Jarrod

  • Alucard Valdez

    A 17 year old is on the Youth Payment (indicating a breakdown of relationship with parents/guardians). Is he legally independent from his parent/guardian? If not, how does he become emancipated?

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