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Government records may be missing or incomplete

Sometimes agencies you have dealt with may have patchy records about you. Often this is because records were not kept, were destroyed as part of past recordkeeping practice, or may have been lost, especially if they are very old.

You may need to ask more than one government agency

Because your personal information may be held by more than one government agency, you may need to make more than one request.

When asking for information, please try to be specific about what you are looking for – for example, dates spent in care in a particular place. This will help an agency find other agencies that may hold information about you.

We cannot usually provide information about personal records or parts of records we may hold. The agency that transferred records to us controls access to those records, and there may be privacy or other concerns around them. Therefore, you need to get in touch with the agency or agencies to request personal records.

Agencies are looking at ways to streamline the request process, so in future you don’t have to ask more than once for your information.

What to expect about your request

You can expect to:

  • be asked for proof of your identity, usually a passport or a New Zealand driver's licence

  • receive confirmation that your request has been received

  • have the agency respond within 20 working days of your request being received. This will be to provide your personal information, arrange delivery (if it's being sent by courier), or give you a timetable for its delivery (if the files are old they can take some time to find and get back from storage). New Zealand Courts may take a little longer to respond as their records need to be reviewed by a judge.

Information about other people

Personal information about other people may be blanked out from your records.

If you are asking for information about someone else (such as a member of your whānau), you will have to meet extra requirements. The agency will discuss these requirements with you, since different laws may apply.

Support services

Please let agencies know if you are a survivor of abuse in care if you feel comfortable to do so. There are a range of support services that agencies can provide, fund or put you in touch with to help.

You may also wish to contact the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. Details for getting in touch with the Royal Commission are available on their website.

Making a complaint

If you have any concerns about a government agency's response to your request, you can complain:

  • directly to the agency, using the complaints process available on the agency's website. These are detailed below

  • to the Privacy Commissioner, if you feel your privacy has been interfered with

  • to the Ombudsman, about agencies' decisions.

Contact information

Privacy Commissioner

Website: www.privacy.org.nz

Telephone: 0800 803 909

Email: enquiries@privacy.org.nz

Office of the Ombudsman

Website: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz

Telephone: 0800 802 602

Email: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz

Government agency contact details

Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children

Telephone: 0508 326 459 (please ask for Customer Information Requests)

Email: myrequest@ot.govt.nz

In writing: 

Customer Information Requests

Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children

PO Box 546

Wellington 6011

To make a complaint

Website: www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/contact-us/feedback/

For information on adoptions

The Oranga Tamariki Adoption Service can help you establish which records could be available to you and information from the Ministry’s records.  The Service’s details are available on Oranga Tamariki's website. For adoption-related questions you can also ring 0508 326 459 and ask for the Adoption Service for your area.

Ministry of Education

For records from a school that is still open

You will need to contact the school.  Contact details for schools can be found on the Education Counts website.

For records from a school that has been closed

Email: enquiries.national@education.govt.nz

In writing:

The Privacy Officer

Ministry of Education

PO Box 1666

Wellington 6140

To make a complaint

Email: enquiries.national@education.govt.nz

Website: https://www.education.govt.nz/our-work/contact-us/regional-ministry-contacts/complaints/

District Health Boards

For records from a hospital (open or closed)

You will need to contact the District Health Board in the area the hospital is, or was, based. Contact details for District Health Boards can be found on the Ministry of Health's website.

To make a complaint

You can complain in accordance with the relevant District Health Board's complaints process. Details should be available on their website.

Ministry of Justice

For records held by New Zealand Courts

Email: courtrecords@justice.govt.nz

For coronial records about people who have died

Website: https://coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/about/request-information/individual-case-files/

For all other records held by the Ministry (which is likely to be very limited for personal records)

Email: official.correspondence@justice.govt.nz

In writing: 

Official Correspondence,

Ministry of Justice,



Website: www.justice.govt.nz/about/official-information-act-requests/

Ministry of Social Development

Requesting information

In person: At any Work and Income service centre

Email: PrivacyOfficer@msd.govt.nz

In writing:

Privacy Officer,

Ministry of Social Development,

PO Box 1556,

Wellington 6140

Online contact form – Select “Privacy Act request” in the menu.

Privacy notice: www.workandincome.govt.nz/about-work-and-income/privacy-notice/

For historic claims

You can request personal records if you are making a claim under the historic claims process. Where this is the case, the Ministry of Social Development will coordinate with Oranga Tamariki on your behalf. More information about the claims process is available on the Ministry's website.

New Zealand Police

Advice on how to request information relevant to the Royal Commission from New Zealand Police, including links to online forms, is available from a special part of the Police website.

Department of Corrections

Email: info@corrections.govt.nz

In writing: 

Chief Privacy Officer

Private Box 1206

Wellington 6140

Website: www.corrections.govt.nz/about_us/who_we_are/our_privacy_commitment.html