For there to be a breach of Privacy in New Zealand which is able to be taken to Court there are a number of factors that need to be present:

  • There is an intentional and unauthorised intrusion;
  • The intrusion is into intimate personal space, activity or affairs;
  • It involves infringement of a reasonable expectation of privacy; and
  • It is highly offensive to a reasonable person.

In the leading case (decided in 2012), a man installed a hidden camera in the bathroom of a house he shared with others. The camera took intimate recordings.

However, because the man did not publish or make the pictures publically available, there were no laws in New Zealand at the time that said what he did was wrong. The Court, however, decided that he had breached a right to privacy. This has been supported by other cases since.

However, it is important to note that there is a defence to the invasion of a person’s privacy. If the invasion of privacy is proven, a defendant can then argue that there is public interest in the information that was recorded. This goes beyond where there is simply public curiosity.

To determine whether there is a public interest, courts must perform a balancing test, weighing up the harm done by the invasion of privacy against the legitimate public concern of the information.

It is important to understand in what circumstances you can reasonably expect to have privacy, and when others can intrude.

If there are concerns about recordings or other information that has been collected, and whether the collection is an invasion of your privacy, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Alan Knowsley