Home -Surrogacy - School of Law - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Rethinking Surrogacy Laws


A collaboration between Law, Business, Health Sciences, Philosophy and the Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Maori.

Project Overview

Surrogacy, particularly international surrogacy, is prevalent and increasing.

The legal, ethical and cultural issues include:

  • child welfare
  • reproductive freedom
  • exploitation of the surrogate
  • commodification of the child
  • immigration and citizenship
  • parenthood and custody

The law in Aotearoa New Zealand and elsewhere does not adequately address these issues. In 2004, the New Zealand Law Commission noted an urgent need for specific surrogacy legislation. This recommendation was accepted in principle by the Government but to date no changes have been proposed.

We will rethink Aotearoa New Zealand’s regulatory framework for surrogacy. The interests, perspectives and rights of the child, surrogate mother and intended parents will each be addressed, together with the process of arranging surrogacy and the legal and ethical implications of surrogacy arrangements.

We will conduct critical and comparative legal analysis as well as qualitative interviews with stakeholders, policy makers and interest groups in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique cultural identity will feature prominently throughout the research.
We intend that our project will facilitate debate and form the basis of legislative changes.

For further information, please contact Dr Debra Wilson

Project goals

  1. To identify and consider the legal and ethical issues which potentially arise as a result of surrogacy arrangements.
  2. To identify and consider the cultural and societal beliefs and concerns of iwi Māori in relation to surrogacy.
  3. To identify and consider the cultural and societal beliefs and concerns of other cultures within Aotearoa New Zealand in relation to surrogacy.
  4. To consider the effectiveness and appropriateness of the current regulation of surrogacy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  5. To evaluate different options for the regulation of surrogacy, including domestic and/or international law reform, or amendment to regulatory guidelines.
  6. To develop a best-practice guide for New Zealanders considering domestic or international surrogacy arrangements.

Research Team

Publications and Presentations