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New Zealand – Giving Birth and Registration of Birth / Nationality

Giving Birth

In New Zealand when you discover you are pregnant it is common practice to engage a mid-wife immediately. A midwife usually takes the role of primary care giver during your pregnancy and at birth.

If you have a history of pregnancy complications you would most likely be encouraged to engage a specialist. A specialist can also be engaged by any individual even with a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy if this is desired. A specialist will charge a fee for their services. Midwife services are free to those who are eligible – including New Zealand residents, permanent resident visa holders or work visa holders able to stay in New Zealand for 24 consecutive months as well as Australians or Australian permanent resident visa holders who are in New Zealand for two years or longer.

Regular visits with your midwife are scheduled and these become more frequent as your due date approaches. The midwife will assist with organizing required blood tests and scans as necessary. Although most care is free there may be charges for some tests at private laboratories and there may also be charges for ultrasound scans and antenatal or childbirth education classes.

Antenatal classes are usually attended by both parents and can be located either in your nearest city or more close to home in your local suburb. Your midwife can direct you in this matter depending upon where you reside. These classes are a very useful way of connecting with other people who are having children at the same time as you.

You have a choice as to what kind of birth experience you would prefer i.e. home, hospital, water etc. These options are discussed with your midwife or specialist in advance. When you go into labour your carer should be notified and (s)he will advise you on when it’s best to travel to the local hospital if you are having a hospital birth or they may come and visit you at home first to determine how far along the labour is.

Pain relief offered in New Zealand commonly comprises a range of options varying from the use of water (bath or pool), massage, Entonox (gas and air), through to pethidine and /or an epidural. Once the birth is complete the baby will be checked and weighed. Your midwife will ensure you and the baby are well before departing (home birth) or leaving you in the care of hospital staff. If the birth has been uncomplicated and mother and baby are healthy you may be permitted to leave hospital within a matter of hours if you wish. If a caesarean section has been required you may need to stay in hospital for up to five days after the birth.

Your midwife will come and visit you frequently after the birth to ensure the baby is thriving and that you are recovering well. These visits reduce in their frequency with each week and usually stop after approximately six weeks. In New Zealand there is an organization called Plunket which offers support services for the development, health and wellbeing of children under five. From this point on they become a key resource for the continued wellbeing of your child undertaking regular developmental checks and providing advice.


It is only in recent years (2005) that a change was made to New Zealand law for citizenship by birth where a child born in NZ was no longer automatically a NZ citizen.

From 1 January 2006, a child born in NZ only acquires NZ citizenship if their parent/s are NZ citizens, or entitled to be in NZ indefinitely in terms of their immigration status, are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or entitled to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Tokelau or Niue

It is also possible for a child to become a NZ citizen if they would otherwise be stateless.

All births in New Zealand must be registered by law. Registration forms are usually passed on to a parent shortly after birth for completion. There are no fees involved with registering the birth.
Once the birth is registered a birth certificate can be obtained for the child. This will state not a New Zealand Citizen. The birth certificate however will likely be required to obtain travel documents etc. so is beneficial to have.

In the case of a birth outside of New Zealand to a parent who is a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by decent, New Zealand citizenship can be applied for.

Last update: 26 February 2020