What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?
There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in New Zealand.
In 2016, New Zealand was named one of the top ten best countries to be a girl by Save the Children. The index uses a range of indicators, including child marriage, lower secondary school completion, female political participation, adolescent fertility and maternal mortality.
Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
There is limited information on child marriage in New Zealand.
In 2012 UNICEF called for legislation to prevent forced and child marriages in New Zealand. This followed reports of a 17 year old Wellington girl being trapped into marrying a distant relative after her parents worried she was becoming too westernised.
What has this country committed to?
New Zealand has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
New Zealand co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.
New Zealand co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, New Zealand signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
New Zealand ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its 2016 review, the UN Child Rights Committee recommended that the government develop awareness-raising campaigns targeting households, local authorities, religious leaders, judges and prosecutors, on the harmful effects of child marriage on the physical and mental wellbeing of girls.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Marriage Act 2005 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However a person aged 16 can be married with parental consent.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)
New Zealand Herald, Laws need to prevent forced marriages in NZ – Unicef, [website], 2012, (accessed June 2018)
Save the Children, Which are the best and worst countries to be a girl?, [website], 2016, (accessed March 2018)
UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of New Zealand, 2016, 2016, p.8, (accessed May 2018)
United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)