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What is the Hague Convention?

(let us simplify this for you without all the legal jargon)

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty that provides an expeditious method to return a child who was wrongfully taken by a parent from one country to another country.

Aotearoa New Zealand is a signed signatory to this international treaty and has been since 1st August 1991.

Currently there is 103 countries signed to this international treaty.

It was originally drafted to stop fathers taking their children to eastern European countries without the mother’s consent, fast forward to 21st century and the tables have flipped, we are now seeing an increase in mothers taking their tamariki to flee from Family and Sexual violence from their perpetrators to keep themselves safe.


There are 5 “defences” that can be used in court against ordering your tamariki/rangathai to return back overseas out of  Aotearoa New Zealand to their “Habitual Residence” (bearing in mind that the courts here are strict on their interpretation on these defences).

1 – More then 12 months has passed since the removal or retention

2 - The left behind parent requesting the return did not exercise their parental rights

3 – Grave risk of psychological and physical harm should tamariki be returned

4 – Tamaraiki/rangathai object to return (and are 16 years and over)

5 – The left behind parent acquiescence (consented) to the tamariki leaving in the first place


Always consult with a lawyer that is EXPERIANCED in international family law around the above.


We work with a few well experienced and trusted lawyers should you need recommendations.

Why  tamariki may not be returned from a Hague Convention Country

In some cases, a judge in Aotearoa New Zealand or overseas may decide not to return tamariki to the country where the tamariki usually lives.

This may happen if:

  • the person wanting the return of their tamariki wasn’t using their custody rights when their tamariki was taken or kept overseas.

  • the person wanting the return of their tamariki had agreed to the child being taken to or kept in the other country.

  • the tamariki would be at risk of physical, mental or emotional harm if they came back to the country they usually lived in.

  • Tamariki wishes not to come back and is old enough for their views to be considered.

  • Tamariki are settled in the new country and has been living there for more than 12 months.

  • returning the child would be against their basic freedoms and human rights.

Who do we awhi/support?

New Zealand Hague Collective awhi/supports parents who have experienced Family and Sexual Violence that have fled from overseas and come back here, (home) to be safe with their tamariki.

We have an understanding and experience working within the Family Violence and Sexual violence sector in Aotearoa New Zealand and know that Family and Sexual Violence can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity and religion.

We work alongside organisations throughout Aotearoa New Zealand in the Family and Sexual Violence sector to help awhi/support and link into them where we feel a parent needs extra help.


We do not support left behind offenders.

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