Raise the Age

Tell Justice Minister Goldsmith that 10-year-olds are too young for life sentences.


In Aotearoa New Zealand, 10 & 11-year-olds can be given life sentences.

Primary school aged kids shouldn’t be facing life sentences and right now, our government has the power to stop it.

In Aotearoa, our minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10. This is the age that kids can be prosecuted and punished for a crime. 10 sounds too young right? That’s because it is.

We should be helping children learn from their mistakes, not harming them.

When children this young are forced through criminal proceedings at such a formative age, they can suffer lasting and immense harm – to their health, wellbeing, and future.

Join us and ask the government to end this harmful system by increasing this age to at least 14, with an immediate increase to 12 and then to at least 14 once needed changes ensure that the system caring for these children is effective and appropriate. 


The UN has said that 14 should be the absolute minimum age of criminal responsibility. Aotearoa New Zealand is falling behind international standards.

In January 2023 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child described the current minimum age of criminal responsibility in Aotearoa New Zealand as an “offence-based approach”, not a “child-centred approach”, and they asked the Government to advise what steps are being taken to bring the minimum age of criminal responsibility in line with UN standards.

The government has a responsibility to keep New Zealand in line with international best practice and uphold the declaration of children’s rights that they signed. Tell them to action this UN recommendation.

Instead of punishing children who are already struggling, we should do everything we can to support them. We need to raise the criminal age of responsibility to at least 14 and help children with therapeutic and culturally appropriate support that addresses the causes behind their behaviour.

This campaign is part of wider advocacy in the criminal justice space. To find out more click here.

Have more pātai/questions about this issue? There are some FAQs at the bottom of this page.

Have pātai/questions?

What is the age of criminal responsibility?


How many 10-13 year olds are prosecuted in Aotearoa each year?


How does Aotearoa NZ compare to the rest of the world?


How did the UN decide to set the recommended age of at least 14?


Why should we take a staged approach to raising the age to 14?


Doesn’t this campaign mean tamariki/children will just not have to face consequences for their actions?


What about punitive approaches to prevent re-offending?