Throughout history, miscarriages of justice can occur. Following the 2017 general election, the incoming coalition government announced its commitment to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission to review such cases.

Wrongful convictions and sentences profoundly impact affected individuals; it does not allow justice for victims and their whānau and erodes public confidence in the justice system.

The rationale for establishing a Criminal Cases Review Commission in Aotearoa, applicable to individuals of all backgrounds, arises from concerns regarding the autonomy, efficiency, and calibre of miscarriage of justice investigations.

Individual’s suspecting a miscarriage of justice have traditionally been able to petition the Governor-General, who acts upon the Minister of Justice's counsel, to invoke the Royal prerogative of mercy. This avenue permits the re-examination of criminal cases, potentially leading to either a pardon or the referral of a conviction or sentence back to the courts.

Nonetheless, this mechanism has failed to attract applications from those disproportionately represented in the justice system, including young people, females, Māori, and Pacific individuals.

Despite constituting over 60% of the New Zealand prison population, the proportion of Royal prerogative of mercy applications from Māori and Pacific communities ranged from 6% to 16%.

These concerns have been voiced consistently by civil society entities such as the New Zealand Public Interest Project, the New Zealand Innocence Project, and others including MPs, journalists, academics, legal professionals, investigators, and forensic scientists.

In 2017, the New Zealand Government, as part of a coalition agreement, committed to establishing a Criminal Cases Review Commission and in September 2018 the New Zealand Parliament introduced the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill, culminating in its final passage on 12 November 2019.

An Establishment Advisory Group comprising of individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives was set up to provide counsel to ensure Te Kāhui's structure and functions aligned with the Criminal Cases Review Act 2019.

The organisation was set up as an independent Crown entity in Kirikiriroa | Hamilton to scrutinise suspected wrongful sentences or convictions and recommend appropriate cases for an appeal court review.

From 1 July 2020, it started receiving applications for review.

The name Te Kāhui Tātari Ture was gifted from the relationship between CCRC and Waikato-Tainui. It was adopted and the entity became known as Te Kāhui Tātari Ture | Criminal Cases Review Commission (Te Kāhui).

The name Te Kāhui Tātari Ture was gifted from the relationship between CCRC and Waikato-Tainui. It was adopted and the entity became known as Te Kāhui Tātari Ture | Criminal Cases Review Commission (Te Kāhui).

Several other nations, including the United Kingdom (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland), Scotland, and Norway, have similarly instituted Criminal Cases Review Commissions to ensure unbiased and fair assessments of potential miscarriages of justice.

At 30 Pipiri | June 2021 Te Kāhui received 221 applications, at 30 Pipiri | June 2023 Te Kāhui has received 394 applications. This was extensively more than policy assumptions which had 125 applications in the first year.

This is a significant increase to the Royal prerogative of mercy process, where 173 applications were made between 1995 and 1 July 2020. The number of applications from Māori ranges from 33 to 38 percent and from Pacific people from 9 to 11 percent reflecting better with the current population of incarcerated people in Aotearoa.

Of the 394 applications received, 145 applications have been closed; 29 applications have progressed to a section 25 investigation; 2 applications are on hold; and 218 are in the assessment phase.

As a result of Budget 2023, Te Kāhui will receive an increase in funding from 1 July 2023. While this increase in funding will
strategically support Te Kāhui, financial pressure on the organisation remains.