Long v Steine [2022] NZFC 251

Published 18 February 2022

Dispute between guardians — COVID-19 vaccinations — anti-vaccination views — Gillick competence — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6 & 46R — New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, ss 5, 11 & 13 — United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, arts 2.1, 12 & 13.1 — Brown v Argyll [2006] NZFLR 705 — Kacem v Bashir [2010] NZSC 112 — C v S [2006] 3 NZLR 420 — Dvorak v Yamamoto [2017] NZHC 1591 — Gillick v West Northwick & Wisbech Health Authority [1986] AC 112 — Moore v Moore [2014] NZHC 3213 — District Health Board v Dee [2019] NZHC 834 — Hawthorne v Cox [2008] 1 NZLR 409 — Four Aviation Security Service Employees v Minister of Covid-19 Response, Associate Minister of Health, and Attorney General [2021] NZHC 3012 — Moncrief-Spittle v Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd [2021] 2 NZLR 795 — Stone v Reader [2016] NZFC 6130 — Sudworth v Lovell [2019] NZFC 2584 — Bullock v Elliston [2019] NZFC 10254. This hearing was to determine several applications pursuant to s 46R of the Care of Children Act ("COCA") by the applicant mother in respect of the parties' child. The main application related to vaccinating the child against COVID-19. The mother wished for the 12-year old child to be vaccinated against COVID-19; the respondent father was opposed. The child also expressed the strong view that he did not wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The principles in ss 4-6 of COCA were relevant, including the child's wellbeing and best interests being paramount, and that a child must be afforded reasonable opportunity to express views on the issues before the Court. Given the child's age and maturity, the Court determined he was Gillick competent and therefore entitled to make decisions about his own medical treatment. The Court then considered the child's decision against his s 11 New Zealand Bill of Rights Act ("NZBORA") right to refuse medical treatment, and whether there was a justified curtailment of that right pursuant to s 5 of NZBORA. The Court concluded that there was no justified curtailment and the Court would not make an order that the child should be vaccinated. The application was accordingly dismissed. The other applications seeking a direction that the parties were not to discuss "anti-vaccination views" and that any information provided to the child about the vaccinations was to be medically approved information were also dismissed. Judgment Date: 14 January 2022. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *