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The law

New Zealand laws can affect your sexual and reproductive health/oranga taihema. 

WHAT IS THE LEGAL AGE TO HAVE SEX IN AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND?

It is legal in New Zealand for young people to have sex once they are both 16 years old. This is called the Age of Consent.

WHAT IS CONSENT?

Consent means that both people say and show “yes” to sex or sexual acts.

It is rape if you have sex with someone who:

  • has not consented
  • has changed their mind
  • is too drunk
  • is on drugs.

People cannot consent to sex or sexual acts if they are unconscious, drunk or high on drugs.

It is not okay to talk or threaten someone into having sex – this could be sexual assault.

HOW OLD DO I NEED TO BE TO GET CONTRACEPTION?

You can get contraception at any age. There is no minimum age to buy condoms or to be prescribed contraception.

No matter how old you are, your nurse or doctor will check that you understand what you’re doing, and that you’re not being forced to do something you don’t want to do.  If you are at risk, they will have to share that with other people to get you some help, but they will talk to you first.

HOW OLD DO I NEED TO BE TO HAVE AN ABORTION?

You can get an abortion at any age. The law says a woman or girl of any age can agree to have an abortion or can refuse to have one.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I BECOME A FATHER?

If you become a father, you are legally and financially responsible for the child until their 19th birthday. If you are under 18, the financial responsibility will go to your parents.

WHAt does the law say about porn?

It is legal to watch porn when you are 18 or older, but you may not show it to a person under 18.

Some porn is illegal for everybody, such as porn that is extremely violent or involves children.

WHAT IF SOMEONE SHARES PRIVATE IMAGES OR VIDEOS OF ME?

It is illegal to share (or threaten to share) sexually explicit pictures/videos (sexts) of someone online. It is an offence under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. This is sometimes called revenge porn.

If an image or video is shared without your consent, you can get help from Netsafe. Netsafe runs a free and confidential service, and they can tell you what options you have to deal with the situation. You can call them, email them or fill out an online report form.

If someone shares private sexual images or videos of you on social media, you can also report it to the site and they should remove it. Social networks don’t allow nudity so it should be easy to report. This is especially true if the image is of someone under 18.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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