A father has taken his fight to get his late wife's name recorded on his daughter's birth certificate all the way to Parliament with a private bill.
The extreme action is the last hope for Kyle Harris and his young daughter Paige, whose mum Katherine Harris died before she was born via surrogacy.
Katherine's death from lung transplant complications in December 2019 meant the couple were unable to complete Paige's adoption after her birth - the only way intended or biological parents of a baby born through surrogacy can be officially recognised as the parents.
Harris said it was his daughter's birthright to have Katherine recognised as her mother but because the Adoption Act 1955 was so outdated, it did not cater for surrogacy and the death of an intended mother before birth.
Harris, 35, and his supporters launched a petition last year signed by more than 48,000 people to replace the words 'Not Recorded' under Mother with Katherine's name, on Paige's birth certificate.
When that didn't work they wrote to MPs and even the Prime Minister with his plight, to no avail.
Katherine, who was born with cystic fibrosis and underwent a lung transplant in 2012 before marrying her sweetheart the following year, always wanted children but because of her health she could not carry a pregnancy.
Friends Renee and Josh Johnson offered to carry a baby for the couple and through in-vitro fertilisation Renee fell pregnant in the first round of IVF.
Harris said his wife would have been horrified and perplexed over what was happening.
"It's probably lucky they're dealing with me and not her," Harris said. "She was a bit of a firecracker and I don't think she would have been as patient."
Harris, a signwriter from Te Kauwhata, has spent about $18,000 in legal fees trying to resolve the issue, which he wants to do before his little girl turns 2 on March 25.
"It's a birthright and I morally object to spending money on something that should have been corrected in the first place."
Labour MP Louisa Wall has introduced the Paige Harris Birth Registration Bill to Parliament, which is hoped to have its first reading on February 16.
Wall said private bills were rare but because there was no ability in general law to resolve Paige's birth registration issue, a private bill was the only mechanism to achieve it.
"After talking with Paige's family we drafted a bill and I was asked by them to take the bill through the parliamentary process."
The Ministry of Justice is undertaking a review of adoption law, including a separate review of surrogacy by the Law Commission.
Law Commission principal adviser Nicola Lambie said under the Adoption Act the person who gives birth is the legal parent and the only way intended parents such as biological parents, in the case of surrogacy, can be recognised is through adoption.
She said this did not reflect the realities of surrogacy and the need for reform was long overdue.
"The problem in the case of baby Paige is if you are dead you cannot adopt under the Adoption Act so this has really highlighted the problem with trying to apply 1950s adoption law to the very modern family-building exercise of surrogacy."
Lambie said biological parents found it offensive and demeaning to have to adopt a baby they see as their own, because of the process which included having to be assessed by an Oranga Tamariki social worker as a fit parent.
She said the Law Commission has made explicit reference to a situation like Paige's case in its review and will make recommendations to the Government around applying the law retrospectively.
It was hoped the review would be presented to the Government in May.
Children's Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers said it was unimaginable for anyone to consider what Harris had gone through: "Grieving his wife, having to adopt his own genetic child to legalise his parenthood, then discover that currently Katherine cannot be named on Paige's birth certificate".
She said the review of the decades-old Adoption Act had been a long time coming.
"I am very pleased that Government has gone even further, and is now considering surrogacy as a completely separate means of building a family, not subject to the adoption process."
Eivers said the Office of the Children's Commissioner submitted to the surrogacy review that under certain circumstances the intending parents should be recognised as legal parents from conception.
"That review will go to the Minister of Justice [Kris Faafoi] this year for consideration, and I urge him to embrace the opportunity for change.
"If and when the law is updated to account for legal parenthood through surrogacy, we hope the provisions will be made retrospective for this family's rare situation.
"We wish Mr Harris all the best in his advocacy for this law to be updated, and, more importantly – for Paige to know about her whakapapa whānau as well as surrogacy whānau."