Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders support giving gay couples the right to adopt children.

A Herald-DigiPoll showed that 61.2 per cent of the public felt adoption law should be changed to allow all couples, including same-sex couples, to adopt while 35.1 per cent felt adoption should be kept to heterosexual couples. The survey also showed more than half of New Zealanders approved of gay marriage, while 40.5 per cent opposed it.

Labour and Greens have long called for an update to the Adoption Act 1955, which governs the rules of adoption. National felt it was not a priority.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, who has submitted a private members' bill for same-sex adoption, said the poll results were pleasing because amending adoption laws was in the best interests of children.


"In New Zealand, as a gay individual, you can adopt a child but as a gay couple you can't. As a married heterosexual couple you can, as a civil union heterosexual couple you cannot. It's time that our laws are reviewed."

The latest poll showed a 20 per cent jump in support for same-sex adoption since 2009. Green Party rainbow issues spokesman Kevin Hague said there had been an international shift in promoting gay rights in the past three years, and this had influenced New Zealand's thinking on the issue.

"The main argument that people were making previously was that if same-sex couples were allowed to marry it would undermine other marriages.

"Now I think people have mulled that over and asked 'How would that work?' The arguments against these initiatives have largely been discredited."

Mr Hague was working with National MP Nikki Kaye to develop a bill which would legalise gay adoption by couples. He canvassed the previous Government on support for reforming adoption laws, and said he had an overwhelming majority.

"We're at a point where the majority in favour of these things is probably greater than for most of the measures which pass through Parliament. Having all of the options on the table surely makes more sense in the interests of the child than arbitrarily ruling some out."

Because Mr Hague and Ms Kaye's work was more far-reaching than gay rights, it could be picked up by Government, while keeping the controversial amendments as a conscience vote.

Prime Minister John Key has said he would personally support a bill for gay adoption at its first reading, but would not confirm whether he would back it further. He also said it was not a priority for the Government in the current economic climate.


National backed gay adoption for couples in civil unions, and was expected to debate a gay adoption remit at its national conference next month.

Ms Ardern tabled a bill for same-sex adoption but had it voted down, and it was now in the Members' ballot. Mr Hague and Labour MP Louisa Wall have submitted bills to legalise gay marriage.

The poll had a sample size of 750 people, interviewed between June 18 and June 28, and had a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.