Reprint
as at 19 August 2013

Coat of Arms of New Zealand

Marriage Act 1955

Public Act1955 No 92
Date of assent27 October 1955
Commencementsee section 1(2)

Note

Changes authorised by subpart 2 of Part 2 of the Legislation Act 2012 have been made in this reprint.

Note 4 at the end of this reprint provides a list of the amendments incorporated.

This Act is administered by the Ministry of Justice.


Contents

Title

1 Short Title and commencement

Part 1
Preliminary

2 Interpretation

3 Application of Act

4 Registrar-General and Deputy Registrar-General

5 Appointment of Registrars and Deputy Registrars [Repealed]

6 Fact of deputies acting conclusive evidence of authority to do so [Repealed]

Part 2
Marriage celebrants

7 List of marriage celebrants

8 Marriage celebrants of specified religious bodies

9 Approval of organisations

10 Marriage celebrants from approved organisations

11 Other persons may be marriage celebrants

12 Renewal of list

13 Removal of names from list

14 Evidence of list or correction to list

14A This Part not to limit sections 32 and 32A

Part 3
Restrictions on marriage

15 Marriage of persons within prohibited degrees of relationship void

16 Validation of certain marriages already solemnised

17 Marriage of persons under 16 years of age

18 Consent to marriage of minors

19 Application to Family Court Judge where consent refused

20 General provisions relating to consents

21 Marriages without licence or marriage celebrant void

22 Marriages not to be void because of defects in procedure

Part 4
Formalities preliminary to marriage

23 Notice of marriage

24 Issue of marriage licence and information return

25 Caveats may be lodged

26 Discharge of caveat

27 Vexatious caveat

28 Registrar to issue licence unless satisfied marriage unlawful

29 Licence authorises but not obliges marriage celebrant to solemnise marriage

Part 5
Solemnisation of marriage

30 When marriage may be solemnised

31 Place and form of marriage before marriage celebrant

32 Marriage of Quakers

32A Marriage in accordance with rules and procedures of exempt religious bodies

32B Application to become exempt religious body

32C Declaration of religious body as exempt religious body

32D Change in beliefs or objects of exempt religious bodies

32E List of exempt religious bodies

33 Marriages before Registrar

33A Registrar-General may solemnise marriage

34 Proxy marriages

Part 6
Registration of marriages

35 Marriage registers

36 Particulars of marriage to be entered in register book [Repealed]

37 Penalty for failing to register marriage [Repealed]

37A Marriage celebrant to comply with directions of the Registrar-General with respect to registration [Repealed]

38 Registrar-General to keep register [Repealed]

Part 7
Marriages out of New Zealand

39 Foreign marriages of British subjects

40 Marriages abroad of Commonwealth citizens and citizens of Ireland

41 Certificate of no impediment to person intending foreign marriage

42 Notice of intended marriage outside New Zealand

43 New Zealand representative may attend marriage abroad of New Zealand citizen and give certificate

44 Validity of service marriages

45 Record of service marriages solemnised outside New Zealand [Repealed]

46 Special register of service marriages [Repealed]

Part 8
General

47 Correction of errors in register books or records [Repealed]

48 Search of records of Registrar [Repealed]

49 Search of records of Registrar-General [Repealed]

49A Disclosure of information to Department of Social Welfare [Repealed]

49B Registrar-General may authorise access to information [Repealed]

49C Limitations on access [Repealed]

49D Health or demographic research or collection of statistics [Repealed]

50 Shortened form of marriage certificates [Repealed]

50A Searches of Registrar-General's indexes [Repealed]

51 Certified copies to be evidence [Repealed]

52 Officers may take statutory declarations [Repealed]

53 Records to be made of dissolution of marriages [Repealed]

54 Convictions for bigamy to be recorded [Repealed]

55 Records of dissolution of marriage or bigamy to be made in record book [Repealed]

55A Recording of changes of name in marriage record book [Repealed]

56 Offence to deny or impugn validity of lawful marriage [Repealed]

57 Offence to alter register book without authority

58 Offence to solemnise marriage contrary to provisions of this Act

59 Offence to solemnise marriage falsely pretending to be marriage celebrant

60 Offences in connection with false statements and improper solemnisation of marriages

61 Offences generally [Repealed]

62 Magistrate to have summary jurisdiction [Repealed]

63 Limitation on prosecutions

64 Regulations

64A Rules of procedure

65 Regulations may prescribe fees [Repealed]

66 Disposition of fines and fees

67 Repeals and savings

Schedule 1
Religious bodies

Schedule 2
Prohibited degrees of marriage

Schedule 3
Enactments repealed

Schedule 4
Enactments ceasing to have effect in New Zealand


An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to marriage

1 Short Title and commencement
  • (1) This Act may be cited as the Marriage Act 1955.

    (2) This Act shall come into force on 1 April 1956.

Part 1
Preliminary

2 Interpretation
  • (1) In this section, unless the context otherwise requires,—

    Commonwealth country includes a territory for whose international relations the Government of a Commonwealth country is responsible

    marriage means the union of 2 people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity

    marriage celebrant means a person authorised to act as a marriage celebrant under this Act

    Minister means the Minister of the Crown who, under the authority of any warrant or with the authority of the Prime Minister, is for the time being responsible for the administration of this Act

    minor means a person under the age of 18 years

    New Zealand representative means a person who is for the time being a head of mission or head of post (within the meaning of section 2 of the Foreign Affairs Act 1988) or a person assigned or reassigned to service overseas under section 6 of that Act

    service marriage means a marriage solemnised outside New Zealand at a time when the person who solemnised it, and at least one party to it, is a member of a naval, military, or air force raised in New Zealand, and the person who solemnised it—

    • (a) is both a chaplain and a marriage celebrant; or

    • (b) in the case only of a marriage solemnised before 1 September 1995, is a person duly authorised to solemnise it.

    (2) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, the terms Registrar-General, Deputy Registrar-General, and Registrar have the meanings assigned to them by section 2 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995.

    Section 2: replaced, on 1 September 1995, by section 92 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

    Section 2(1) marriage: inserted, on 19 August 2013, by section 5 of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 (2013 No 20).

    Section 2(1) Minister: inserted, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

    Section 2(1) minor: inserted, on 26 April 2005, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 2005 (2005 No 15).

    Section 2(1) service marriage paragraph (b): amended, on 24 January 2009, by section 47 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Amendment Act 2008 (2008 No 48).

    Section 2(2): amended, on 24 January 2009, by section 47 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Amendment Act 2008 (2008 No 48).

3 Application of Act
  • (1) The provisions of this Act, so far as they relate to capacity to marry, shall apply to the marriage of any person domiciled in New Zealand at the time of the marriage, whether the marriage is solemnised in New Zealand or elsewhere.

    (2) The provisions of this Act, so far as they relate to the formalities of marriage, including the provisions relating to consents to the marriage of minors, shall apply to any marriage solemnised in New Zealand, and to any marriage solemnised under section 44, whether or not either of the parties to any such marriage is at the time of the marriage domiciled in New Zealand.

4 Registrar-General and Deputy Registrar-General
  • (1) The Registrar-General shall be charged with the general administration of this Act.

    (2) The Deputy Registrar-General shall, under the control of the Registrar-General, have all the powers, duties, and functions of the Registrar-General.

    (3) During a vacancy in the office of Registrar-General, or in the case of the absence from duty of the Registrar-General, the Deputy Registrar-General shall have all the powers, duties, and functions of the Registrar-General.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 4; 1912 No 24 s 2; 1915 No 25 s 2

5 Appointment of Registrars and Deputy Registrars
  • [Repealed]

    Section 5: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

6 Fact of deputies acting conclusive evidence of authority to do so
  • [Repealed]

    Section 6: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

Part 2
Marriage celebrants

  • Part 2 heading: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

7 List of marriage celebrants
  • (1) The Registrar-General shall in each year prepare a list of marriage celebrants (in this Part referred to as the list) and shall cause the list to be published in the Gazette.

    (2) The list shall contain the name of each person entitled under this Act to act as a marriage celebrant and shall be corrected or added to as the occasion may require. The Registrar-General shall cause each correction or addition to the list to be published in the Gazette.

    (3) The Registrar-General shall specify in each list published in the Gazette a date on which the list shall come into force, and on that date all previous lists and all corrections and additions to any previous list shall be deemed to be cancelled and of no effect.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 14

    Section 7 heading: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 7(1): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 7(2): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

8 Marriage celebrants of specified religious bodies
  • (1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2) and (3), there shall be entered in the list the name of any minister of religion which has been sent to the Registrar-General by any of the religious bodies enumerated in Schedule 1.

    (2) The name of any minister of religion which has been sent to the Registrar-General as aforesaid shall be accompanied by a certificate to the effect that the minister is recognised by the religious body as a minister of religion of that body.

    (3) The certificate shall be signed by the person or persons within New Zealand in whom ecclesiastical authority over the religious body is for the time being vested, or reputed to be vested, or, if there is no such person, by 2 duly recognised office bearers of the religious body.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 9

    Section 8 heading: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

9 Approval of organisations
  • (1) Any organisation may apply to the Registrar-General in the manner hereinafter provided for approval as an organisation which may, pursuant to section 10, nominate persons to solemnise marriages, (therein and in this section referred to as an approved organisation).

    (2) Every such application shall be accompanied by a statement signed by the chief office bearer and 10 members of the organisation, all being of or over the age of 18 years, each of whom shall append his or her age and address, setting out:

    • (a) the objects and beliefs of the organisation; and

    • (b) the number or, if this cannot accurately be ascertained, the approximate number of members of the organisation of or over the age of 18 years:

    provided that in the case of any organisation the constitution or tenets of which do not recognise any chief office bearer an application signed as aforesaid by 10 members only shall be sufficient.

    (3) The signatures of the signatories to every application shall be attested by some other person who shall, by statutory declaration attached to the statement, verify the signatures as the genuine signatures of the persons whose signatures they purport to be.

    (4) If the Registrar-General is satisfied that the principal object or one of the principal objects of the organisation is to uphold or promote religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions, he or she may by notice in the Gazette declare the organisation to be an approved organisation.

    (4A) If the Registrar-General fails or refuses to declare the organisation an approved organisation, he or she shall, if required to do so by the organisation, refer the application to the Minister who, if he or she is satisfied that the principal object or one of the principal objects of the organisation is to uphold or promote beliefs or convictions as aforesaid, may direct the Registrar-General to declare the organisation, by notice in the Gazette, an approved organisation; and in that case the Registrar-General shall forthwith do so.

    (5) [Repealed]

    (6) [Repealed]

    (6A) Where an approved organisation changes its name or any of its objects, it shall forthwith give the Registrar notice in writing, signed in the manner required by subsection (2) for an application under subsection (1),—

    • (a) of its former and new names; and

    • (b) of whether or not its objects remain unchanged since it last stated them to the Registrar-General under this section; and

    • (c) if those objects do not so remain unchanged, stating its present objects.

    (6B) Where the Registrar-General is satisfied that an approved organisation has changed its name he or she shall notify the change by notice in the Gazette specifying that organisation's former and new names.

    (6C) Where the Registrar-General—

    • (a) has been notified under subsection (6A) that the objects of an approved organisation have changed; or

    • (b) is satisfied that any of the objects of an approved organisation has changed since that organisation last stated its objects to the Registrar-General under this section,—

    he or she shall recommend to the Minister either—

    • (c) that that organisation should continue to be an approved organisation; or

    • (d) that the Minister should cancel the approval of that organisation.

    (6D) The Registrar-General shall not recommend under subsection (6C) that an organisation should continue to be an approved organisation unless he or she is satisfied that the principal object or one of the principal objects of that organisation is to uphold or promote religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions.

    (7) If—

    • (a) at any time, the Minister—

      • (i) becomes satisfied that, in the light of information not available to him or her or the Registrar-General (as the case may be) when an organisation was approved, or by virtue of a change in the circumstances of an approved organisation, that organisation should not continue to be an approved organisation; or

      • (ii) is not satisfied (whether or not as a result of a recommendation under subsection (6C)) that the principal object or one of the principal objects of an approved organisation is to uphold or promote religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions; or

    • (b) for a continuous period of at least 12 months no person nominated by an approved organisation has his or her name on the list,—

    the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, cancel the approval of that organisation; and on the date of the publication of that notice that organisation shall cease to be an approved organisation.

    (8) Every religious body not enumerated in Schedule 1 of which a member was an officiating minister immediately before the commencement of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 is hereby declared to be an approved organisation.

    Section 9: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 3(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 9(4): replaced, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(4A): inserted, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(4A): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

    Section 9(5): repealed, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(6): repealed, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(6A): inserted, on 8 March 1985, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1985 (1985 No 27).

    Section 9(6B): inserted, on 8 March 1985, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1985 (1985 No 27).

    Section 9(6C): inserted, on 8 March 1985, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1985 (1985 No 27).

    Section 9(6C): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

    Section 9(6C)(d): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

    Section 9(6C)(d): amended, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(2)(a) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(6D): inserted, on 8 March 1985, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1985 (1985 No 27).

    Section 9(7): replaced, on 8 March 1985, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1985 (1985 No 27).

    Section 9(7): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

    Section 9(7): amended, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(2)(d) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(7)(a): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

    Section 9(7)(a)(i): amended, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(2)(b) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

    Section 9(7)(a)(ii): amended, on 6 November 1986, by section 2(2)(c) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

10 Marriage celebrants from approved organisations
  • (1) The name of every adult member of an approved organisation nominated to be a marriage celebrant shall be sent to the Registrar-General together with a certificate from the organisation declaring that it wishes the member to be a marriage celebrant.

    (2) The certificate shall be signed and attested in the manner specified in section 9 for applications for approval.

    (3) If the Registrar-General is satisfied that any person so nominated is of good character and otherwise qualified to act as a marriage celebrant, and that the provisions of this Act in respect of the submission of his or her name have been complied with, he or she shall enter the name of the person on the list.

    (4) If the Registrar-General fails or refuses to enter in the list the name of any person nominated pursuant to this section he or she shall, if required to do so by any signatory to the certificate accompanying the person's nomination, refer the nomination to the Minister, who may direct the Registrar-General to enter the person's name in the list, and in that case the Registrar-General shall forthwith enter the person's name in the list.

    Section 10: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 3(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 10(4): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

11 Other persons may be marriage celebrants
  • (1) Any person may apply to the Registrar-General to have his or her name entered on the list.

    (2) The application must—

    • (a) be made in a form approved for the purpose by the Registrar-General; and

    • (b) contain, or be accompanied by, such information as the Registrar-General requires; and

    • (c) be accompanied by the prescribed fee (if any).

    (3) The Registrar-General may approve an application made under subsection (1) and enter the applicant's name on the list if the Registrar-General is satisfied that—

    • (a) the applicant is—

      • (i) a Justice of the Peace; or

      • (ii) a person who is otherwise of good character; and

    • (c) it is in the interests of the public generally, or of a particular community (whether defined by geography, interest, belief, or some other factor) that the person be a marriage celebrant.

    Section 11: replaced, on 7 July 2010, by section 4 of the Marriage Amendment Act 2010 (2010 No 71).

12 Renewal of list
  • Where it is desired that any person shall continue to act as a marriage celebrant, his or her name shall, in December in each year, be sent to the Registrar-General, and the provisions of this Part shall apply in any such case as if it were an application for the original entry of the name of the person concerned in the list.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 12

    Section 12: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

13 Removal of names from list
  • (1) Where the Registrar-General is satisfied that—

    • (a) a marriage celebrant has died; or

    • (b) a marriage celebrant no longer wishes to be a marriage celebrant; or

    • (c) the organisation or religious body which submitted the name of a marriage celebrant no longer wishes him or her to be a marriage celebrant; or

    • (d) the organisation which submitted the name of a marriage celebrant is no longer an approved organisation,—

    he or she shall remove the name of the marriage celebrant from the list and shall publish in the Gazette a correction to that effect.

    (2) If the Minister is satisfied—

    • (a) that a marriage celebrant has wilfully failed or persistently neglected to register the particulars of any marriages or to forward or return to a Registrar or to the Registrar-General any documents required so to be forwarded or returned by this Act; or

    • (b) that a marriage celebrant whose name has been entered in the list pursuant to section 11 should not continue to be a marriage celebrant—

    he or she may direct the Registrar-General to remove the name of that marriage celebrant from the list, and the Registrar-General shall remove the name from the list and shall publish in the Gazette a correction to that effect.

    Section 13: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 4 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 13(2): amended, on 1 October 1995, by section 10(3) of the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995 (1995 No 39).

14 Evidence of list or correction to list
  • (1) No person shall be entitled to act as a marriage celebrant unless his or her name appears in the list.

    (2) A copy of the Gazette purporting to contain a copy of any list or of any correction or addition to any list published in the Gazette in accordance with this Part shall be received in any court or before any person acting judicially as conclusive evidence of the truth of any statement in any copy published as aforesaid.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 16

    Section 14(1): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

14A This Part not to limit sections 32 and 32A
  • Nothing in this Part limits sections 32 and 32A (which exempt the Quakers and certain other religious bodies from observing requirements in Part 5 relating to the solemnisation of marriage in the presence of marriage celebrants).

    Section 14A: inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 60 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

Part 3
Restrictions on marriage

15 Marriage of persons within prohibited degrees of relationship void
  • (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a marriage which is forbidden by the provisions of Schedule 2 shall be void.

    (2) Any persons who are not within the degrees of consanguinity but are within the degrees of affinity prohibited by the said Schedule 2 may apply to the High Court for its consent to their marriage, and the court, if it is satisfied that neither party to the intended marriage has by his or her conduct caused or contributed to the cause of the termination of any previous marriage of the other party, may make an order dispensing with the prohibition contained in Schedule 2 so far as it relates to the parties to the application and, if such an order is made, that prohibition shall cease to apply to the parties.

    (3) The Registrar of the court where any order under this section is made shall send a copy in duplicate of the order to the Registrar-General.

    (4) No marriage not forbidden by the provisions of Schedule 2 shall be void only on the ground of consanguinity or affinity.

    Compare: 1946 No 8 s 9

    Section 15(2): amended, on 1 April 1980, pursuant to section 12 of the Judicature Amendment Act 1979 (1979 No 124).

16 Validation of certain marriages already solemnised
  • All marriages solemnised before the commencement of this Act that by virtue of section 15 would have been valid and lawful if this Act had been in force when they were solemnised shall be deemed to have been and to be valid and lawful, and the issue born of any such marriage (whether born before or after the commencement of this Act) shall be deemed to have been born in lawful wedlock:

    provided that where either of the parties to any such marriage has thereafter during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage and before the commencement of this Act lawfully married any other person, the first marriage shall be deemed to have been dissolved immediately before the solemnisation of the second marriage:

    provided also that this section shall not affect any estate, right, or interest in any real or personal property to which any person has become absolutely entitled before the commencement of this Act, or affect any proceedings commenced in any court before the commencement of this Act, or any decree, order, or judgment made or given (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) in any such proceedings.

    Compare: 1946 No 8 s 10

17 Marriage of persons under 16 years of age
  • (1) A marriage licence shall not be issued by any Registrar and no marriage shall be solemnised by any Registrar or marriage celebrant if either of the persons intending marriage is under the age of 16 years on the date of the notice of the intended marriage given under section 23.

    (2) No marriage shall be void by reason only of an infringement of the provisions of this section.

    Compare: 1939 No 39 s 41

    Section 17(1): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

18 Consent to marriage of minors
  • (1) If either of the parties to an intended marriage is a minor, the Registrar shall not issue a licence authorising the marriage or solemnise the marriage unless it has been consented to in accordance with this section.

    (2) Subject to the provisions of this section, consents to the marriage of a minor shall be obtained in accordance with the following provisions:

    • (a) if both the minor's parents are alive and living together, consents shall be obtained from both parents:

    • (b) if the minor's parents are living apart and he or she is living with one parent, consent shall be obtained from the parent with whom he or she is living:

    • (c) if the parents are living apart and the minor is not living with either, consent shall be obtained:

      • (i) from both parents in any case where they are, or have been, married to each other, unless the consent of one parent is dispensed with by a District Court Judge:

      • (ii) from the mother in any case where the parents have never been married:

    • (d) if one of the parents is dead and the parents had at any time been married to each other, consent shall be obtained from the surviving parent and any other person who is the legal guardian of the minor:

    • (e) if both parents are dead and they had at any time been married to each other, consent shall be obtained from any person who is the legal guardian of the minor:

    • (f) if the minor's parents had never been married to each other and one or both of them is dead, consent shall be obtained from the mother if she is alive and from any person who is the legal guardian of the minor if she is dead.

    (3) If any person is the guardian of a minor pursuant to section 5 of the Child Welfare Amendment Act 1948, consent shall be obtained from the guardian and no other consent shall be required.

    (4) Where a parent whose consent is required or is sufficient is deprived of the guardianship of a minor, the consent of the legal guardian shall be required or be sufficient, as the case may be, in place of the consent of that parent.

    (5) Consent shall not be required from any person who cannot be found or is, because of mental incapacity, unable to give consent and, unless the minor requests the consent, consent shall not be required from any person who is not resident in New Zealand.

    (6) Where there is no person whose consent to the marriage of a minor is required under the foregoing provisions of this section, consent to the marriage shall be obtained either from a relative who has been acting in the place of a parent or from a person who was a guardian of the minor immediately before the minor turned 18 years of age, or from a Family Court Judge.

    (7) No marriage shall be void by reason only of the absence of the consent of any person whose consent is required under this section.

    Compare: 1926 No 32 s 8

    Section 18(1): amended, on 26 April 2005, by section 4 of the Marriage Amendment Act 2005 (2005 No 15).

    Section 18(2): replaced, on 1 January 1970, by section 12(2) of the Status of Children Act 1969 (1969 No 18).

    Section 18(2)(c)(i): amended, on 1 April 1980, pursuant to section 18(2) of the District Courts Amendment Act 1979 (1979 No 125).

    Section 18(6): amended, on 1 July 2005, by section 151 of the Care of Children Act 2004 (2004 No 90).

    Section 18(6): amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

19 Application to Family Court Judge where consent refused
  • (1) Where any person whose consent is required to a marriage refuses to give his or her consent, a Family Court Judge may, on application in that behalf, consent to the marriage and that consent shall have the same effect as if it had been given by the person whose consent has been refused.

    (2) Where an application is made to a Family Court Judge for consent to a marriage, notice of the application shall be served on every person whose consent to the marriage is required under section 18:

    provided that the Family Court Judge may in his discretion dispense with the serving of notice on any such person.

    Compare: 1926 No 32 s 8

    Section 19 heading: amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

    Section 19(1): amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

    Section 19(2): amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

    Section 19(2) proviso: amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

20 General provisions relating to consents
  • (1) Every consent under section 18 shall be in writing witnessed by some person who, if resident in New Zealand, shall add his or her occupation and address, and the consent shall be delivered to the Registrar to whom notice of the intended marriage is given.

    (2) Any consent given under section 18 may, by notice in writing signed by the person giving his or her consent, be withdrawn at any time before the Registrar issues the marriage licence or solemnises the marriage, as the case may be.

21 Marriages without licence or marriage celebrant void
  • If any persons knowingly and wilfully marry without a marriage licence where a marriage licence is required by this Act, or in the absence of a marriage celebrant or Registrar where the presence of a marriage celebrant or Registrar is required by this Act, the marriage shall be void.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 48

    Section 21 heading: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 21: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

22 Marriages not to be void because of defects in procedure
  • (1) Except as provided in section 15 or in section 21, no marriage shall be deemed to be void by reason of any error or defect in the notice, declaration, or licence required before solemnisation, or in the registration of the marriage when solemnised where the identity of the parties is not questioned, or on account of any other infringement of the provisions of this Act.

    (2) Nothing in this section shall exempt any marriage celebrant, Registrar, or other person who does anything contrary to the provisions of this Act from any penalty for any offence under this Act committed by any such person.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 47

    Section 22(2): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

Part 4
Formalities preliminary to marriage

23 Notice of marriage
  • (1) Where 2 persons intend to marry in New Zealand, one of them shall give notice in the prescribed form to a Registrar.

    (2) The person giving notice shall appear personally before the Registrar and shall make a statutory declaration in the prescribed form that the several particulars set forth in the notice are true, that he or she believes that the marriage is not prohibited by section 15, and that there is no other lawful impediment to the intended marriage.

    (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), where the 2 persons concerned are ordinarily resident outside New Zealand, the person giving notice may do so by posting the prescribed form to the Registrar; but in that case the Registrar shall not issue the licence until satisfied that one of those persons has made the appropriate statutory declaration.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 17

    Section 23(3): inserted, on 6 November 1986, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1986 (1986 No 97).

24 Issue of marriage licence and information return
  • (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, if a marriage is to be solemnised by a marriage celebrant or under section 32, and notice has been given to a Registrar in accordance with section 23, the Registrar shall, not earlier than the third day after the day the notice was given, issue to the person who gave the notice—

    • (a) a marriage licence in the prescribed form, authorising the marriage of the persons named in it at the place, or either of 2 places (being a place or places situated in New Zealand), specified in it; and

    • (b) 2 copies of a form provided by the Registrar-General for the purpose of returning information relating to marriages solemnised by marriage celebrants or under section 32.

    (1A) A Registrar other than the Registrar to whom the notice was given may issue the licence and copies (and in that case the Registrar to whom the notice was given does not have to do so).

    (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), if satisfied that—

    • (a) a proposed marriage is not prohibited by this Act; and

    • (b) the requirements of this Act have been complied with; and

    • (c) the parties to the proposed marriage would otherwise be inconvenienced,—

    a Registrar may issue a marriage licence and marriage return forms before the third day after the day the notice concerned was given.

    Section 24: replaced, on 1 September 1995, by section 93 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

    Section 24(1A): inserted, on 7 May 1999, by section 2 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1999 (1999 No 38).

25 Caveats may be lodged
  • (1) Any person may lodge with any Registrar a caveat against the marriage of any person named in the caveat on the ground that the marriage is one in respect of which a licence should not be issued under this Act.

    (2) Every caveat shall be in writing signed by or on behalf of the caveator, and shall state his or her full name and residential address and the particular grounds of objection on which the caveat is founded.

    (3) Notice of any caveat may be given to any Registrar other than the Registrar with whom it was lodged. The notice shall be in writing signed by or on behalf of the caveator, and shall state his or her full name and residential address, the date and place of lodgment of the caveat, and the grounds of objection on which the caveat is founded.

    (4) Until the caveat has been withdrawn by the caveator or has been discharged as provided by section 26, no licence in respect of the marriage of the person to whom the caveat relates shall be issued by any Registrar with whom the caveat has been lodged or to whom notice of the caveat has been given in accordance with this section, and no such Registrar shall solemnise the marriage.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 22

26 Discharge of caveat
  • (1) On receiving notice under section 23 of an intended marriage against which he or she is aware that a caveat has been lodged, the Registrar shall submit the caveat to a Family Court Judge, or, if a Family Court Judge is not immediately available, to a District Court Judge who shall forthwith inquire into the grounds of objection stated in the caveat, and, if he or she is of the opinion that those grounds should not prevent the solemnisation of the marriage, he or she shall discharge the caveat.

    (2) A caveat shall be deemed to be discharged after the expiration of 1 year from the date on which it was lodged unless within that time a notice of the intended marriage to which the caveat relates has been given.

    (3) Where a Family Court Judge (or a District Court Judge) has refused to discharge a caveat, any person may make an application to a Family Court Judge for the discharge of the caveat and the Family Court Judge, if he or she is of the opinion that there is no longer any reason why the intended marriage should not be solemnised, shall discharge the caveat.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 22(2)

    Section 26(1): amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

    Section 26(3): amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

27 Vexatious caveat
  • Any person who has lodged a caveat shall, if the court considers the grounds on which the caveat was lodged to be vexatious and unreasonable, be liable for damages.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 23

28 Registrar to issue licence unless satisfied marriage unlawful
  • A Registrar shall issue a marriage licence or solemnise a marriage, as the case may be, unless he or she has reasonable cause to believe that the marriage is prohibited by this Act or that any of the requirements of this Act have not been complied with:

    provided that no Registrar shall be required to solemnise a marriage at a time or on a day when his or her office is not ordinarily open for the transaction of public business under this Act unless he or she has agreed to do so.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 25

    Section 28 proviso: inserted, on 1 January 1977, by section 7(2) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

29 Licence authorises but not obliges marriage celebrant to solemnise marriage
  • (1) A marriage licence shall authorise but not oblige any marriage celebrant to solemnise the marriage to which it relates.

    (2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), no celebrant who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1, and no celebrant who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation, is obliged to solemnise a marriage if solemnising that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 28

    Section 29 heading: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 29(1): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 29(2): inserted, on 19 August 2013, by section 6 of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 (2013 No 20).

Part 5
Solemnisation of marriage

30 When marriage may be solemnised
  • (1) A marriage shall not be solemnised by a marriage celebrant until the marriage licence issued in respect of the marriage has been delivered to him or her.

    (2) A marriage shall not be solemnised after the expiration of 3 months from the date of the licence issued in respect of the marriage.

    (3) A marriage shall not be solemnised by a Registrar before the third day after notice of the intended marriage has been given to him or her:

    provided that the Registrar, if he or she is satisfied that the marriage is not prohibited by this Act, that the requirements of this Act have been complied with, and that inconvenience would otherwise be caused to the persons intending marriage, may solemnise the marriage before that day.

    (4) A marriage shall not be solemnised by a Registrar after the expiration of 3 months from the date when notice of the intended marriage was given to him or her, or, where a caveat has been lodged, after the expiration of 3 months from the date when the caveat was withdrawn or discharged.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 31

    Section 30(1): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

31 Place and form of marriage before marriage celebrant
  • (1) Every marriage solemnised by a marriage celebrant shall be solemnised at a place described in the marriage licence issued in respect of that marriage.

    (2) Subject to subsection (3), every such marriage shall take place between the persons named in the licence according to such form and ceremony as they may think fit to adopt, and shall be solemnised in the presence of a marriage celebrant and 2 or more witnesses.

    (3) During the solemnisation of every such marriage each party must say to the other—

    • (a) I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife or husband; or

    • (b) words to similar effect; or

    • (c) in the case of the solemnisation of a marriage in accordance with the rules and procedures of a specified body that require different words to be used as a marriage vow than those set out in paragraph (a), those words.

    (4) The solemnisation of a marriage may not be conducted in accordance with subsection (3)(c) unless the specified body in question first—

    • (a) informs the Registrar of the words that are intended to be used in place of the words set out in subsection (3)(a) and satisfies the Registrar that the use of those words is in accordance with the rules and procedures of that body; and

    • (b) notifies the Registrar of the safeguards to be adopted by that body to ensure that—

      • (i) there is a clear identification of the parties to the marriage; and

      • (ii) that the parties freely consent to the marriage; and

      • (iii) the witnesses understand the ceremony and can verify the matters referred to in subparagraphs (i) and (ii).

    (5) In this section, specified body means—

    • (b) an organisation approved under section 9 as an organisation that may nominate marriage celebrants.

    Section 31: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 6 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 31(2): amended, on 7 May 1999, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1999 (1999 No 38).

    Section 31(2): amended, on 15 December 1994, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1994 (1994 No 153).

    Section 31(3): replaced, on 1 January 2002, by section 59 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

    Section 31(4): inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 59 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

    Section 31(5): inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 59 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

32 Marriage of Quakers
  • (1) The provisions of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant shall not extend, and shall be deemed not to have extended, to any marriage solemnised (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) in accordance with the marriage regulations of the religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers, or in accordance with those regulations except so far as the regulations may require that marriages be solemnised at a place where public meetings for worship are regularly held:

    provided that no such marriage shall be solemnised unless a marriage licence has been issued:

    provided also that every such marriage shall be solemnised at a place stated in the marriage licence.

    (2) Every marriage to which this section applies shall be as valid as if solemnised under this Act before a marriage celebrant, and accordingly shall, for the purposes of this Act, wherever necessary be deemed to have been so solemnised.

    (3) [Repealed]

    (4) [Repealed]

    (5) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit in any way the provisions of section 22 as to the validity of marriages.

    Compare: 1940 No 18 s 30

    Section 32(1): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 32(1) second proviso: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 5(2) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 32(1) second proviso: amended, on 15 December 1994, by section 2(2) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1994 (1994 No 153).

    Section 32(2): amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 32(3): repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

    Section 32(4): repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

32A Marriage in accordance with rules and procedures of exempt religious bodies
  • (1) The provisions of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriage in the presence of a marriage celebrant do not extend to marriages conducted in accordance with the rules and procedures of an exempt religious body.

    (2) Despite subsection (1), a marriage to which that subsection applies—

    • (a) must not be solemnised unless a marriage licence has been issued:

    • (b) must be solemnised at a place stated in the marriage licence.

    (3) Every marriage to which subsection (1) applies is as valid as if solemnised under this Act before a marriage celebrant.

    (4) This section does not limit the provisions of section 22 relating to the validity of marriages.

    (5) In this section and in sections 32B to 32E, an exempt religious body is a body that is exempted by the Registrar-General under section 32C from observing the requirements of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant.

    Section 32A: inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 61 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

32B Application to become exempt religious body
  • (1) A religious body (other than the religious body to which section 32 applies) may apply to the Registrar-General for an exemption from observing the requirements of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant.

    (2) An application made under subsection (1) must be accompanied by—

    • (a) a statement signed by the chief office bearer and 10 members of the religious body setting out—

      • (i) the beliefs and objects of the organisation; and

      • (ii) the number or, if this cannot be accurately ascertained, the approximate number of members of the organisation of or over 18 years; and

    • (b) a statement explaining why the objects and beliefs of the religious body are inconsistent with those provisions of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant; and

    • (c) a statement containing a description of the rules and procedures by which the body proposes to solemnise marriages.

    (3) In the case of a religious body whose rules and procedures or tenets do not recognise any chief office bearer, the statement referred to in subsection (2)(a) need only be signed by 10 members of the body.

    (4) The statement referred to in subsection (2)(a) (whether signed by the persons referred to in that subsection or the persons referred to in subsection (3)) is invalid unless—

    • (a) each signatory is of or over 18 years and includes in the statement his or her age and address; and

    • (b) the signatures of the signatories are attested by another person who must, by statutory declaration attached to the statement, verify the signatures as the genuine signatures of the persons whose signatures they purport to be.

    Section 32B: inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 61 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

32C Declaration of religious body as exempt religious body
  • (1) The Registrar-General may, on receiving an application under section 32B, grant the exemption sought by declaring the religious body to be an exempt religious body if the Registrar-General is satisfied—

    • (a) that the body is a bona fide religious body; and

    • (b) that the beliefs of that body are genuinely and sincerely held by its members; and

    • (c) that the beliefs or objects of that body are inconsistent with the fulfilment of the requirements of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriage in the presence of a marriage celebrant; and

    • (d) that the rules and procedures under which that body proposes to solemnise marriage are—

      • (i) consistent with the requirements of this Act (other than those referred to in paragraph (c)); and

      • (ii) otherwise satisfactory.

    (2) If, on receiving an application under section 32B, the Registrar-General fails or refuses to declare the religious body to be an exempt religious body, the Registrar-General must, if required to do so by the religious body, refer the application to the Minister.

    (3) If the Minister considers that the requirements of subsection (1)(a) to (d) are satisfied, the Minister may direct the Registrar-General to declare the religious body to be an exempt religious body and, in that case, the Registrar-General must do so immediately.

    (4) A declaration under this section that a religious body is an exempt religious body must be made by way of notice in the Gazette.

    Section 32C: inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 61 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

32D Change in beliefs or objects of exempt religious bodies
  • (1) If an exempt religious body changes its name or any of its beliefs or objects, it must immediately give the Registrar-General notice in writing, signed in the manner required by section 32B(2)(a),—

    • (a) of its former and new names; and

    • (b) of whether its beliefs and objects remain unchanged since it last stated them to the Registrar-General under section 32B; and

    • (c) if those beliefs and objects do not remain unchanged, stating its present beliefs and objects; and

    • (d) stating whether its present beliefs and objects continue to be inconsistent with the provisions of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant.

    (2) If the Registrar-General is satisfied that an exempt religious body has changed its name, the Registrar must notify the change by notice in the Gazette specifying that body's former and new names.

    (3) Subsection (4) applies if the Registrar-General—

    • (a) has been notified under subsection (1) that the beliefs or objects of an exempt religious body have changed; or

    • (b) is satisfied that any of the beliefs or objects of an exempt religious body have changed since that organisation last stated its beliefs and objects to the Registrar-General under section 32B.

    (4) If subsection (3) applies, the Registrar-General must recommend to the Minister either—

    • (a) that that exempt religious body should continue to be an exempt religious body; or

    • (b) that the Minister must cancel the exemption of that body from observing the requirements of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant.

    (5) The Registrar-General must not recommend, under subsection (4), that an organisation should continue to be an exempt religious body unless the Registrar-General is satisfied that the objects and beliefs of the body continue to be inconsistent with the provisions of this Part relating to the solemnisation of marriages in the presence of a marriage celebrant.

    (6) The Minister may exercise the power conferred by subsection (7) if, at any time, the Minister—

    • (a) becomes satisfied that, in the light of information not available to the Minister or Registrar-General (as the case may be) when an exempt religious body was granted an exemption, or as a consequence of a change in the circumstances of an exempt religious body, that the body should not continue to be an exempt religious body; or

    • (b) is not satisfied (whether or not as a result of a recommendation under subsection (4)) that the beliefs and objects of the religious body are no longer inconsistent with the provisions of the Part relating to the solemnisation of marriage in the presence of a marriage celebrant.

    (7) If subsection (6) applies, the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, cancel the exemption of the religious body referred to in subsection (6), and on the date of the publication of that notice that body ceases to be an exempt religious body.

    Section 32D: inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 61 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

32E List of exempt religious bodies
  • (1) The Registrar-General must, in each year,—

    • (a) prepare a list of exempt religious bodies (in this section referred to as the list); and

    • (b) ensure that the list is published in the Gazette.

    (2) The list must contain the name of every exempt religious body and must be corrected or added to as often as is necessary to maintain its accuracy.

    (3) The Registrar-General must ensure that each correction of, or addition to, the list is published in the Gazette.

    (4) The Registrar-General must specify in each list published in the Gazette a date on which the list comes into force, and on that date all previous lists and all corrections and additions to any previous list are cancelled and of no effect.

    Section 32E: inserted, on 1 January 2002, by section 61 of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

33 Marriages before Registrar
  • (1) After compliance with the provisions of this Act any marriage may be solemnised at the office of and before the Registrar and in the presence of 2 or more witnesses on any day (not being a Sunday, Good Friday, Anzac Day, or Christmas Day).

    (2) During the solemnisation of every such marriage each party to it shall declare:

    I solemnly declare that I do not know of any impediment to this marriage between me AB and CD,

    And shall say to the other party:

    I call on the people present here to witness that I, AB, take you, CD, to be my legal wife (or husband),

    or words to similar effect.

    Section 33: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 7(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 33(1): amended, on 7 May 1999, by section 4 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1999 (1999 No 38).

    Section 33(1): amended, on 15 December 1994, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1994 (1994 No 153).

33A Registrar-General may solemnise marriage
  • With his or her prior consent, notice of an intended marriage may be given to the Registrar-General or Deputy Registrar-General, and the marriage may be solemnised before him or her, in the same manner and subject to the same requirements and conditions as if he or she were a Registrar.

    Section 33A: inserted, on 1 January 1977, by section 8 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

34 Proxy marriages
  • (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act, a marriage solemnised in New Zealand in the absence of one party to the marriage shall, if it is solemnised in accordance with this section, be lawful.

    (2) A Family Court Judge may, on application in that behalf, authorise the marriage in New Zealand of any person who is resident in New Zealand to any person who is outside New Zealand if the Judge is satisfied that the person who is outside New Zealand is unable to come to New Zealand by reason of the existence of a state of war or armed conflict or by reason of the conditions of his or her service as a member of the armed forces of any Commonwealth country, or of any country for the time being allied with any Commonwealth country.

    (3) All the provisions of this Act shall, as far as they are applicable and with the necessary modifications, apply to any marriage to which this section relates.

    (4) Regulations under this Act may prescribe the form of any marriage to which this section relates before a Registrar, the manner and form in which the assent of the absent party to any such marriage shall be given, the time during which and the circumstances in which any document signed by the absent party may be revoked and the effect of any such revocation, and such other matters as may be considered necessary in respect of the solemnisation and registration of any such marriage.

    Section 34(2): amended, on 1 October 1981, by section 17(1) of the Family Courts Act 1980 (1980 No 161).

    Section 34(2): amended, on 24 September 1959, by section 3 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1959 (1959 No 11).

Part 6
Registration of marriages

35 Marriage registers
  • (1) [Repealed]

    (2) Any person having lawful custody of a register book shall keep the book safely, and any such person who negligently loses the book, or wilfully or negligently destroys or defaces any entry in the book, or wilfully or negligently allows any entry in the book to be destroyed or defaced while the book is in his or her custody, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $100.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 ss 36(1), 39

    Section 35(1): repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

    Section 35(2): amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 413 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (2011 No 81).

36 Particulars of marriage to be entered in register book
  • [Repealed]

    Section 36: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

37 Penalty for failing to register marriage
  • [Repealed]

    Section 37: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

37A Marriage celebrant to comply with directions of the Registrar-General with respect to registration
  • [Repealed]

    Section 37A: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

38 Registrar-General to keep register
  • [Repealed]

    Section 38: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

Part 7
Marriages out of New Zealand

39 Foreign marriages of British subjects
  • All marriages (whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act) which are valid in the United Kingdom by virtue of the Foreign Marriage Acts 1892 to 1947 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, or by virtue of any Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed in amendment of or in substitution for the Foreign Marriage Acts 1892 to 1947, shall be and shall be deemed always to have been as valid in New Zealand as if solemnised in New Zealand in accordance with this Act:

    provided that where either of the parties to any such marriage has thereafter during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage and before the commencement of this Act lawfully married any other person, the first marriage shall be deemed to have been dissolved immediately before the solemnisation of the second marriage:

    provided also that this section shall not affect any estate, right, or interest in any real or personal property to which any person has become absolutely entitled before the commencement of this Act, or affect any proceedings commenced in any court before the commencement of this Act, or any decree, order, or judgment made or given (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) in any such proceedings.

40 Marriages abroad of Commonwealth citizens and citizens of Ireland
  • (1) All marriages (whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act) at least one party to which is a citizen of a Commonwealth country or of the Republic of Ireland solemnised in a country other than the country of which the party is a citizen in accordance with a form authorised in that case by the law of the country of which the party is a citizen shall be as valid in New Zealand as if solemnised in New Zealand in accordance with this Act.

    (2) Nothing in this section shall affect the validity of any marriage solemnised out of New Zealand in accordance with the law of the country where the marriage was solemnised.

41 Certificate of no impediment to person intending foreign marriage
  • (1) A person who intends to marry outside New Zealand in accordance with the law of another country or jurisdiction may apply to the Registrar-General for a certificate of no impediment.

    (2) An application must—

    • (a) be made in the prescribed form; and

    • (b) contain the prescribed information; and

    • (c) be accompanied by the prescribed fee.

    (3) On receipt of an application, the Registrar-General must make whatever searches and inquiries he or she considers appropriate.

    (4) The provisions of sections 25(1) to (3) and 26 apply in respect of intended marriages to which this section relates in the same way as they apply to marriages intended to be solemnised in New Zealand.

    (5) The Registrar-General may issue a certificate of no impediment to the applicant if—

    • (a) any caveat lodged within 14 days of the Registrar-General receiving an application under subsection (1) is withdrawn by the caveator or discharged under section 26; and

    • (b) the Registrar-General is satisfied that no lawful impediment to the intended marriage has been shown to exist.

    Section 41: replaced, on 25 February 2012, by section 4 of the Marriage Amendment Act 2012 (2012 No 13).

42 Notice of intended marriage outside New Zealand
  • (1) Where any citizen of a Commonwealth country or of the Republic of Ireland resident in New Zealand for at least 7 days desires to marry outside New Zealand under the Foreign Marriage Acts 1892 to 1947 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom or to marry any such citizen in the United Kingdom, he or she may give notice to a Registrar in the prescribed form.

    (2) The person giving notice shall appear personally before the Registrar and shall make a statutory declaration that the several particulars set forth in the notice are true and that he or she believes the marriage is not prohibited by Schedule 2 and that there is no other lawful impediment to the marriage.

    (3) If the person giving notice is under the age of 20 years, the same consents shall be required as in the case of a marriage to be solemnised in New Zealand.

    (4) The provisions of section 25 relating to caveats shall apply in respect of intended marriages to which this section relates as they apply to marriages intended to be solemnised in New Zealand.

    (5) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2) to (4), the Registrar shall, after the expiry of 14 days from the date of giving notice, issue a certificate in the prescribed form that notice of the intended marriage has been given.

    Compare: 1915 No 25 s 6

    Section 42(3): amended, on 1 January 1971, by section 6 of the Age of Majority Act 1970 (1970 No 137).

43 New Zealand representative may attend marriage abroad of New Zealand citizen and give certificate
  • (1) Any New Zealand representative who has attended the marriage of a New Zealand citizen in a country other than New Zealand and is satisfied that the marriage has been solemnised in accordance with the formalities of the law of that other country may give a certificate in the prescribed form and shall forward a duplicate copy of the certificate to the Registrar-General.

    (2) [Repealed]

    Section 43(2): repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

44 Validity of service marriages
  • A service marriage shall be deemed to have been and to be as valid as if it had been solemnised in New Zealand in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

    Section 44: replaced, on 1 September 1995, by section 94 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

45 Record of service marriages solemnised outside New Zealand
  • [Repealed]

    Section 45: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

46 Special register of service marriages
  • [Repealed]

    Section 46: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

Part 8
General

47 Correction of errors in register books or records
  • [Repealed]

    Section 47: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

48 Search of records of Registrar
  • [Repealed]

    Section 48: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

49 Search of records of Registrar-General
  • [Repealed]

    Section 49: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

49A Disclosure of information to Department of Social Welfare
  • [Repealed]

    Section 49A: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

49B Registrar-General may authorise access to information
  • [Repealed]

    Section 49B: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

49C Limitations on access
  • [Repealed]

    Section 49C: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

49D Health or demographic research or collection of statistics
  • [Repealed]

    Section 49D: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

50 Shortened form of marriage certificates
  • [Repealed]

    Section 50: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

50A Searches of Registrar-General's indexes
  • [Repealed]

    Section 50A: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

51 Certified copies to be evidence
  • [Repealed]

    Section 51: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

52 Officers may take statutory declarations
  • [Repealed]

    Section 52: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

53 Records to be made of dissolution of marriages
  • [Repealed]

    Section 53: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

54 Convictions for bigamy to be recorded
  • [Repealed]

    Section 54: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

55 Records of dissolution of marriage or bigamy to be made in record book
  • [Repealed]

    Section 55: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

55A Recording of changes of name in marriage record book
  • [Repealed]

    Section 55A: repealed, on 1 September 1995, by section 96 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (1995 No 16).

56 Offence to deny or impugn validity of lawful marriage
  • [Repealed]

    Section 56: repealed, on 19 August 2013, by section 7 of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 (2013 No 20).

57 Offence to alter register book without authority
  • Any person who without the authority of the Registrar-General makes any alteration in a register book, or any person having lawful custody of a register book who permits any such alteration, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $100.

    Section 57: amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 413 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (2011 No 81).

58 Offence to solemnise marriage contrary to provisions of this Act
  • Every Registrar who knowingly and wilfully issues any marriage licence or solemnises any marriage contrary to the provisions of this Act, or where there is any other lawful impediment to the marriage, and every marriage celebrant who knowingly and wilfully solemnises any marriage contrary to the provisions of this Act, or where there is any other lawful impediment to the marriage, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to a fine not exceeding $600, or to both.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 55

    Section 58: amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 413 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (2011 No 81).

    Section 58: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

59 Offence to solemnise marriage falsely pretending to be marriage celebrant
  • Every person who falsely pretends to be a marriage celebrant and solemnises any marriage, knowingly and wilfully so doing, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 54

    Section 59 heading: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

    Section 59: amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 413 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (2011 No 81).

    Section 59: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 2(1) of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

60 Offences in connection with false statements and improper solemnisation of marriages
  • Every person commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to a fine not exceeding $400, or to both, who knowingly and wilfully—

    • (a) makes or causes to be made any false declaration for the purposes of this Act; or

    • (b) makes or causes to be made, for the purpose of being inserted in any register book, a false statement of any of the particulars required to be known and registered under the provisions of this Act; or

    • (c) notifies any Registrar of the lodgment of a caveat under section 25 if in fact no such caveat has been lodged.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 53

    Section 60: amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 413 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (2011 No 81).

61 Offences generally
  • [Repealed]

    Section 61: repealed, on 1 January 1977, by section 9 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

62 Magistrate to have summary jurisdiction
  • [Repealed]

    Section 62: repealed, on 1 April 1958, by section 214(1) of the Summary Proceedings Act 1957 (1957 No 87).

63 Limitation on prosecutions
  • No prosecution under this Act shall be commenced after the expiration of 3 years from the date when the offence was committed.

    Compare: 1908 No 113 s 57

64 Regulations
  • (1) The Governor-General may from time to time, by Order in Council, make regulations for all or any of the following purposes:

    • (a) prescribing fees for the doing of any act under this Act:

    • (b) prescribing forms to be used for the purposes of this Act and the matters to be specified in such forms:

    • (c) providing for such other matters as are contemplated by or necessary to give full effect to the provisions of this Act and its due administration.

    (2) Where the Registrar-General or any Registrar is empowered by this Act to do any act for which a fee is payable, he or she may refuse to do the act until the fee is paid.

    (3) Notwithstanding the provisions of any regulations under this Act, the Registrar-General may dispense with the payment of any fee payable under this Act.

    Section 64: replaced, on 1 January 1977, by section 10 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

64A Rules of procedure
  • (1) Rules may be made under section 16A of the Family Courts Act 1980 regulating the practice and procedure of Family Courts in proceedings under sections 19 and 26.

    (2) The rules—

    • (b) do not affect the practice and procedure of District Courts in proceedings under section 26.

    Section 64A: inserted, on 13 September 2002, by section 6 of the Family Courts Amendment Act 2000 (2000 No 65).

65 Regulations may prescribe fees
  • [Repealed]

    Section 65: repealed, on 1 January 1977, by section 10 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

66 Disposition of fines and fees
  • All fines recovered and all fees received by a Registrar or the Registrar-General under this Act shall be paid into and form part of a Crown Bank Account.

    Section 66: amended, on 25 January 2005, pursuant to section 83(7) of the Public Finance Act 1989 (1989 No 44).

    Section 66: amended, on 1 January 1977, by section 11 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1976 (1976 No 8).

67 Repeals and savings
  • (1) The enactments specified in Schedule 3 are hereby repealed.

    (2) The enactments specified in Schedule 4 shall, at the commencement of this Act, cease to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand.

    (3) Without limiting the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act 1924, it is hereby declared that the repeal of any provision by this Act shall not affect any document made or any thing whatsoever done under the provision so repealed or under any corresponding former provision, and every such document or thing, so far as it is subsisting or in force at the time of the repeal and could have been made or done under this Act, shall continue and have effect as if it had been made or done under the corresponding provision of this Act and as if that provision had been in force when the document was made or the thing was done.

    (4) It is hereby declared that the provisions of sections 20 and 21 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1924 shall apply to the enactments to which subsection (2) applies as if those enactments were Acts of the General Assembly of New Zealand.


Schedule 1
Religious bodies

s 9(1)

Baptists

The Church of the Province of New Zealand, commonly called the Church of England

Congregational Independents

The Greek Orthodox Church

All Hebrew Congregations

The Lutheran Churches

The Methodist Church of New Zealand

The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand

The Roman Catholic Church

The Salvation Army

  • Schedule 1: amended, on 27 November 1970, by section 2 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1970 (1970 No 84).


Schedule 2
Prohibited degrees of marriage

s 15(1)

  • Schedule 2: replaced, on 19 August 2013, by section 8 of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 (2013 No 20).

  • (1) A person may not marry the person's—

    • (a) grandparent:

    • (b) parent:

    • (c) child:

    • (d) grandchild:

    • (e) sibling:

    • (f) parent's sibling:

    • (g) sibling's child:

    • (h) grandparent's spouse or civil union partner:

    • (i) parent's spouse or civil union partner:

    • (j) spouse's or civil union partner's parent:

    • (k) spouse's or civil union partner's grandparent:

    • (l) spouse's or civil union partner's child:

    • (m) child's spouse or civil union partner:

    • (n) grandchild's spouse or civil union partner:

    • (o) spouse's or civil union partner's grandchild.

    (2) The prohibited degrees of marriage apply whether the relationships described are by the whole blood or by the half blood.

    (3) In this schedule, spouse and civil union partner include a former spouse or former civil union partner, whether alive or deceased, and whether the marriage or civil union was terminated by death, dissolution, or otherwise.


Schedule 3
Enactments repealed

s 67(1)

Child Welfare Amendment Act 1948 (1948 No 48)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Guardianship of Infants Act 1926 (1926 No 32) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 1132)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Guardianship of Infants Amendment Act 1927 (1927 No 30) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 1134)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Marriage Act 1908 (1908 No 113) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 826)
Marriage Amendment Act 1912 (1912 No 24) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 845)
Marriage Amendment Act 1915 (1915 No 25) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 845)
Marriage Amendment Act 1919 (1919 No 27) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 847)
Marriage Amendment Act 1920 (1920 No 65) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 848)
Marriage Amendment Act 1926 (1926 No 41) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 849)
Marriage Amendment Act 1927 (1927 No 15) (Reprint of Statutes, Vol III, p 850)
Marriage Amendment Act 1933 (1933 No 5)
Marriage Amendment Act 1946 (1946 No 8)
Marriage Amendment Act 1951 (1951 No 18)
Statutes Amendment Act 1939 (1939 No 39)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Statutes Amendment Act 1940 (1940 No 18)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Statutes Amendment Act 1941 (1941 No 26)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Statutes Amendment Act 1947 (1947 No 60)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).

Summary Jurisdiction Act 1952 (1952 No 41)

Amendment(s) incorporated in the Act(s).


Schedule 4
Enactments ceasing to have effect in New Zealand

s 67(2)

Enactments of the Parliament of England

An Act for the repeal of a statute touching precontract 1548 (2 & 3 Edw VI, c 23)
Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1536 (28 Hen VIII, c 16)
Marriage Act 1540 (32 Hen VIII, c 38)

Enactments of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Consular Marriage Act 1849 (12 & 13 Vict, c 68)
Colonial Marriages Act 1865 (28 & 29 Vict, c 64)
Consular Marriage Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict, c 61)
Foreign Marriage Act 1891 (54 & 55 Vict, c 74)
Marriage Act 1890 (53 & 54 Vict, c 47)


Reprints notes
1 General
  • This is a reprint of the Marriage Act 1955 that incorporates all the amendments to that Act as at the date of the last amendment to it.

2 Legal status
  • Reprints are presumed to correctly state, as at the date of the reprint, the law enacted by the principal enactment and by any amendments to that enactment. Section 18 of the Legislation Act 2012 provides that this reprint, published in electronic form, will have the status of an official version once issued by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel under section 17(1) of that Act.

3 Editorial and format changes
4 Amendments incorporated in this reprint