Services > Child Restraints
Under New Zealand law, all children under seven years of age must use an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size. Children aged seven must be secured in a restraint if one is available in the vehicle. Please read further to find out how child restraints work and best practices.
***Links to external information is supplied at the bottom of this page.
-> FOR A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF CHILD RESTRAINT EXPIRY DATES CLICK HERE
-> For a 'how to' guide on all child restraints used in nz, follow the waka kotahi videos here
The law around child restraints
Age of child & what the law says you must do:
Until their 7th Birthday - Correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint
From their 7th to their 8th Birthday - Correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle (and if not, in any child restraint or safety belt that is available)
From 8th birthday to 14 years old - Must use safety belts if available. If not available, they must travel in the back seat.
Over 14 years old - Must use safety belts where they are available.
International best practice recommends the use of an appropriate child restraint (or booster seat) until your child reaches 148 cm tall or is 11 years old. Child restraint and medical professionals recommend that you keep your baby in a rear-facing restraint until as old as practicable, at least until they are 2 years of age.
For more information:
download the Child restraints save lives information brochure
download the My booster comes with me brochure
What are child restraints?
Approved child restraints include:
infant restraints for young babies (often called baby capsules)
restraints for older babies, toddlers and preschool children (often called car seats)
booster seats for preschool and school-aged children
child safety harnesses (used with or without a booster seat) for preschool and school-aged children.
more information from The Car Seat Dude - check out the facebook page
Child restraints protect children from crash forces
Children must be correctly seated in child restraints that are correctly secured into the car to keep them safe from crash forces.
It’s a driver’s responsibility
When you are the driver, children in your car must be protected in the event of a crash.
As the driver, you are responsible for ensuring that any child travelling in your vehicle is correctly using an appropriate child restraint. Find out the legal requirements [PDF, 243 KB].
How to tell if a child restraint can be legally used in New Zealand & EXPIRY DATES
All child restraints must meet an approved standard. This ensures a restraint's design and construction are laboratory tested under crash conditions and provide the best protection when used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
All approved child restraints display standard markings to show they are approved.
Look for a child restraint that shows:
a tick mark (indicates the restraint meets the joint New Zealand/Australian Standard AS/NZ 1754)
an 'E' mark (indicates the restraint meets the European Standard ECE 44) – the number on the circle will vary depending on the country of certification.
Or, look for a restraint that complies with the United States Standard FMVSS 213. The restraint must also show the New Zealand Standard 'S' mark indicating it is certified for use here.
HOW LONG DOES A CAR SEAT LAST FOR?
Child restraints have a life-span of 5-10 years. These dates vary depending on the brand.
Some expiry dates can be taken from the date of sale (Britax & Safe-n-Sound), others are always from the date stamp on the seat shell.
• All car seats, boosters and harnesses expire - there’s no exception to this rule
Requirements for how the restraints are attached are part of the American and European standards. Restraints that comply with these standards come with connectors called LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) in the United States or ISOFIX in Europe. Both systems have lower anchors in the vehicle and lower attachments on child restraints. This method of installation allows a child restraint to be snapped into place instead of being held by the safety belt.
Some restraints complying with the joint Australia/New Zealand standard also have ISOFIX lower attachments.
Find out more about LATCH and ISOFIX systems (external link).
MOTOR VEHICLE CHILD PASSENGER INJURIES IN NZ
>15 children die in car crashes every year, half of them are tamariki Māori.
In the event of a car crash, booster seats reduces the risk of injury by 59%.
Remember, it’s about height not age: children are safer in a child restraint until they are 148cm tall.
exernal links & resources for your whanau, early learning centres & play groups:
- Safekids website - printable resources & information brochures
- Driveway run over Demonstration - can be ordered by calling 06) 377 1379
- Plunket Services - new information on car seat hire changes
- Whaiora - Tamariki Ora
- Police - Schools information Portal
- Wairarapa REAP - ECE Leaders & Playgroups
- Ministry of Transport - Child restraints
- Book here - FREE Car seat check
Expired/Damaged car seats amnesty is back for 2022
Expired Car Seat Amnesty is back.
For Wairarapa, we have a huge increase in expired and incorrectly fitted car seats in vehicle. Children 0-7 years (or up to 148cm tall) are required by law to be restrained in an appropriate car seat. This means in order for it to be legal, it must meet manufacturer's standards.
installed correctly according to the instruction manual that comes with the seat. If you have a tether strap attached to the seat (according to US/NZ/AUS safety standards), it must be anchored to the anchor bolt in the vehicle. If there is none in your particular make/model of car, then one must be installed.
Shown manufacture date either by sticker or etched circle markings in the back or underneath the car seat. Each brand of seat has a different expiry date. A full list can be found on our website.
Using the safest child restraint for your child is only going to protect your child if it is installed correctly.
Holly is inviting families in Wairarapa to drop off expired cars seats to either REAP House, 340 Queen Street Masterton or the Featherston Community Centre, before 3pm Friday 25th November.
“We will cover the cost of disposal and give advice on best places to purchase new seats and where else (out of town) you can contact to hire a certified car seat”.
Thanks to funding from South Wairarapa District Council, any seats dropped off to Featherston Community Centre (first 50) will be put through the Seat Smart Car Seat Recycling Programme.
“Expired car seats are in particular a huge issue here in Wairarapa as we have no rental service to assist in moderating this. “Although we have outlets in Masterton that sell certified car seats, it’s not always an affordable option for families in our region.” Says Child Restraint Technician Holly Hullena from Wairarapa Road Safety Council
If you wanted an analogy for why car seats have an expiry - and they all do, liken it to tupperware being heated in the microwave, over time the integrity of the plastic wears down. Therefore, it fails to meet the manufacturers standards and cannot be guaranteed to do what it is intended to do - which is keep your child safe when you travel.
Another instance of wear that is often not considered is if the seat that was installed is involved in a crash. The car seat absorbs the shock of the crash and means that the integrity of the car seat is compromised. This means in any crash, best practice is to replace your car seat. Often if you are insured, your policy may have provision to assist in the replacement.
“At school or home when riding a bike, you wear a helmet. If you land on your head and your helmet saves you, then the helmet has done its job but may not save you next time - so you buy a new helmet. It’s the same principle with car seats”.
“Your responsibilities as the driver (under the law), you must make sure that any child under 7 years of age is properly restrained by an approved child restraint that is appropriate for the age and size of the child. They must not travel in the vehicle if you can’t put them in an approved child restraint. The vehicle’s safety belt on its own is not an approved child restraint. “
Holly Hullena has been a child restraint technician since October 2014. She runs monthly free Car seat checking clinics out of Plunket in Masterton and quarterly in Featherston. To make a booking for our next FREE Clinic go to: https://www.picktime.com/carseatclinic
For more road safety information check out the Wairarapa Road Safety Council Facebook page or website www.wairsc.org.nz