Aotearoa New Zealand

Modern Slavery Legislation

On the 28th of July, the New Zealand Government announced that they’ll be taking steps to introduce modern slavery legislation. This is a great step, and something we’ve been advocating for over the last few years.

If you’ve been one of the thousands of Kiwis who have joined us in campaigning since 2021 – thank you. We have no doubt your advocacy played a pivotal role. This is a reminder for us all that when we speak loud enough and for long enough our voices can bring about change!


What is this legislation?

The law will require nearly 4000 businesses to publicly report on modern slavery risks in their supply chains. This means we'll have more transparency about the products we buy. New Zealand currently imports billions of dollars of products at risk of being made by people forced into slavery, including clothes, shoes, toys and food. So, this law is a great first step.


What’s missing?

There’s still work to be done. Unfortunately, the legislation is missing a crucial element: due diligence, which is the requirement for businesses to take action to reduce the risk of exploitation in their supply chains. This means that the legislation will only require companies to disclose exploitation, but they will not be required to act to reduce it. Recent reviews of both the UK and Australian legislation have proved that public disclosure alone does not result in the transformative change in business practice. Both reporting and due diligence are needed to make a meaningful difference for people trapped in slavery. The New Zealand Government has committed to addressing due diligence in the future – but they haven’t given a clear timeframe.

Whilst this legislation is an encouraging step forward, Tearfund will continue campaigning for robust legislation that will create meaningful change for the 28 million people trapped in forced labour.


What’s next?

This legislation will be drafted over the next six months. Then a Bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament for debate. With the election coming up in October, it’s super important that all political parties know to progress this law. Please sign and share Tearfund and World Vision’s open letter by August 7th. The more people who sign, the more we can show our politicians that Kiwis support this modern slavery legislation.