Terms of Reference

The Royal Commission is currently consulting on the draft Terms of Reference

You can submit on the Draft Terms of Reference here: Make a Submission

Please tell us if you want your submission to remain confidential.

These are the key points of the draft Terms of Reference:


The draft Terms of Reference for the Inquiry looks into the type of abuse that occurred to people while in state care, to establish how many people were affected, what the impact of this abuse is, what may have caused abuse to occur and lessons we can learn from the past.

The draft Terms also direct the Inquiry to look at how to prevent and respond to abuse in state care now, as well as what help can be offered to victims and survivors.

The draft Terms propose a key focus for the Inquiry is the impact of abuse in state care for Māori.

The draft Terms also propose the Inquiry considers how the experience of abuse may differ for Pacific people, disabled people, LGBTQI people, those with mental health issues and between genders.


The draft Terms of Reference cover physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.

The draft Terms propose the Inquiry looks into abuse that happened between 1 January 1950 and 31 December 1999.  The draft Terms propose the Inquiry may also consider cases from before 1950.

The draft Terms of Reference propose that state care covers situations where the state has assumed direct or indirect responsibility for an individual’s care.

The draft Terms propose including child welfare and youth justice placements, as well as care in health, disability and special education facilities (such as psychiatric hospitals and residential care facilities, residential special schools and health camps).

How the Royal Commission of Inquiry will work

The draft Terms propose the Inquiry will work in an approachable manner sensitive to the needs of individuals, their families /whānau, or caregivers.

The draft Terms propose the Inquiry will adhere to the highest of standards of professionalism and integrity.

  • Be victim and survivor-focused
  • Work in partnership with Iwi, Māori and whānau
  • Responsive to all people, regardless of culture, gender, beliefs
  • Operate efficiently and communicate in a timely manner

The draft Terms propose that evidence received will not prejudice current or future criminal or civil proceedings.

What Happens Next

The Royal Commission is now receiving submissions on the draft Terms of Reference. Submissions can be made by:

Consultation on the draft Terms of Reference will close on 30 April 2018.

The Chair will then present the Minister of Internal Affairs with a report on the results of the consultation along with any advice that he may have on the matters discussed.

Cabinet will agree the final Terms of Reference which will be formally notified by the Minister.

Once the Terms of Reference are Gazetted, the Royal Commission can begin to hear evidence.