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Newsletters > Manahau: Resilience and Celebration

Ngā Tapuwae o Hape hui

Portrait of Ike Rakena at Makaurau MaraeKarangahape Road is well known throughout New Zealand but few are aware of the history behind its name. Its story is entwined with that of Hape, a successful explorer who was born with a club foot. Hape is one of the founding ancestors of Makaurau Marae at Ihumātao, Māngere in Auckland. His story and those of other hunga hauā (disabled people) was shared at a two-day hui, Ngā Tapuwae o Hape (the Footsteps of Hape), held at Makaurau Marae on 22 June 2012. Jointly hosted by the Human Rights Commission and the Disabled Person’s Assembly (DPA), the focus of the hui was on how to improve the rights of all disabled people in Aotearoa. Ike Rakena, a direct descendent of Hape,became tetraplegic after a rugby league accident. He spoke at the hui, acknowledging his ancestor, and described how Hape was an inspiration for hunga hauā.
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Cover image of Your rights and making complaints a guide for disabled people and their familiesThe Human Rights Commission  launched a complaint resource for disabled people and their families at the 3rd National Disability Conference. Titled Your human rights and making complaints, the booklet provides plain language information on how people can complain about human rights issues and how the Commission’s complaint process works.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson addressed a conference on “Complaints and Improvements: A Human Rights Perspective” earlier this month, linking particularly to the recently passed Public Health and Disability Amendment Bill. “The most vulnerable of disabled people and the most caring, committed and hard working of families need the best possible support,” said Mr Gibson. “They must have a right to complain, and a just process if they don’t get that support.  The recent legislative changes deny this, and human rights in New Zealand have taken a step backwards.”
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From July to October of this year, Statistics New Zealand will be collecting data as part of the 2013 Disability Survey.

The last Disability Survey was held in 2006.  This post-censal survey planned for 2011 was postponed due to the decision to not proceed with the 2011 Census following the Canterbury earthquake.  The Disability Survey requires census data for sample selection.

The Disability Survey is currently the most detailed and comprehensive source of data on disabled people living in New Zealand.  The information helps government to evaluate and develop policies and legislation on issues that affect disabled people.  It helps service providers monitor the effectiveness of existing services for disabled people, and to help develop new services.

Initial outputs from the survey are planned for mid-2014.

For more information, visit www.stats.govt.nz/disability

Portrait of Disability Rights Commissioner Paul GibsonThis week, snow shrouds the mountains and much of Te Wai Pounamu. Bitter winds brought down trees, homes, power lines, sea walls and rail links. Our home shakes with each gust. From my bed, in between the intermittent hail, I hear the screech of roofing iron as it slides and bounces up the road, like nails down a blackboard or the wail of a departing spirit.

It is Matariki, the transition between years in the Māori calendar, which usually includes the longest night and some of the coldest weather. During Matariki, in times past, people would gather around fires during the long cold evenings, keeping the home fires burning and the stories alive. The old and disabled people would pass on the wisdom which has sustained successive generations. This is a time of change, sad endings and new beginnings. This is the time when some say disabled people are at their most powerful. 
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The Te Urunga Award for Disability Inclusiveness was awarded to two disability inclusive groups on the Maori and Cook Island Stages at Auckland Polyfest. The colleges that won were to Mt Roskill Grammar and Sir Edmund Hillary College respectively.
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NZSL Inquiry – Update

Over the last few months the Commission has been collating information on key issues under three priority areas identified in the NZSL Inquiry’s Terms of Reference:

1          NZSL in education

2          access to services and information

3          NZSL maintenance and promotion.
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The Human Rights Commission recently began a Taku Manawa Mana Hauā programme in Auckland. This three year programme begins with an eight-day course that focused on disability rights. Participants learnt about both domestic and international human rights law and the links between human rights and community development. They also learnt key facilitation skills so they can run human rights programmes themselves.

Taku Manawa (My human rights) are human rights community development programmes  for people and organisations who are interested in advocating and promoting equal enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in their communities. They’re actively engaged with diverse communities and want to give effect to the Treaty of Waitangi.
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The Human Rights Commission is concerned that new legislation will make it more difficult for disabled people and their families to access their rights. The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Bill (No 2), passed under urgency today, will contribute approximately 23 million dollars a year to pay people who care for disabled adult family members. Family carers who are assessed as meeting the eligibility criteria will receive the minimum wage of $13.75 an hour. The Ministry of Health has estimated the scheme will apply to around 1600 disabled people with high and very high needs.
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Insulting comments in broadcasting

In 2009, the Commission received a large number of complaints from people who thought broadcaster Paul Henry’s comments about British singer Susan Boyle were insulting to her and to all disabled people. People First, an organisation of people with intellectual/learning disability were most affected due to the nature of the comments. The complaints could not be progressed as a complaint of discrimination under the HRA. However, both the Enquiries and Complaints Team and the Equal Employment Opportunities Team compiled relevant information and supported People First in taking their complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

The BSA ordered the television channel to broadcast an apology, recognising the inappropriate and insulting nature of the comments. (View in NZSL.)

News update

  • Te Urunga Award 2013
    The Human Rights Commission will be presenting Te Urunga Award to support inclusiveness for the second time at this year’s ASB Polyfest. The award will be presented to the cultural group displaying the most inclusive practice in a creative performance at each of the festival’s six stages. Find out more. (View in NZSL.)

Jenny has an intellectual disability. Her school decided she could not attend a school camp because it felt her behaviour posed a potential health and safety risk. The school had insufficient resources to reduce the risk by, for example, providing a teacher’s aide. In its view Jenny would have needed one-on-one attention. Jenny’s parents were not happy, believing the school should have discussed their concerns about her attendance with them. Jenny’s parents complained to the Commission when they were told she was not allowed to attend the camp. (View in NZSL.)
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Hannah, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, visited the local branch of an agency to find that there was no longer a wheelchair accessible counter at which she could be seen or use to write out forms. Hannah felt “invisible” as a result of this office configuration, and complained to the Commission.  (View in NZSL.)
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Case study 1: Problem with online identity

What happened? (View in NZSL.)

Daniel wanted to use an online service but was frustrated to find the only confirmation of personal identification was a driver’s licence. Daniel has been blind since birth and, as such, does not have a driver’s licence. Daniel’s computer has voice-activated software, allowing him a high level of functionality and the ability to fill in forms and access services online.
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Te Rito – human rights case studies

Te Rio cover image of group in discussion around a table. Disability issues make up the second highest number of complaints to the Commission. The main issues disabled people face are lack of support services and reasonable accommodation; difficulties enrolling at school; suspensions and expulsions not accounting for disability issues; and exclusion from school activities, such as school camps and field trips. Te Rito is a collection of human rights case studies published by the Commission. (View in NZSL.)

If you think you have been discriminated against, call the Commission’s Infoline 0800 496 877 or email infoline@hrc.co.nz. It’s free and confidential.

TXT 0210 236 4253
Language Line, an interpreting service, is available.
An appointment with a sign language interpreter is available.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can contact the Commission using the New Zealand Relay Service. NZ Relay is a telecommunications service and all calls are confidential. www.nzrelay.co.nz

Portrait of CecelliaMediation can be a daunting and misunderstood term. Demystifying the term and clearly explaining the mediation process is one of the first things Commission Mediator Cecelia O’Dell will do when she speaks to someone who has made a complaint to the Commission. (View this in NZSL.)

Cecelia has lived experience of disability after receiving a spinal injury in a car accident resulting in quadriplegia.  She does not find it necessary to disclose this information to the parties although she may choose to do so if the circumstances are such that she believes “it might be helpful to relate my personal experience based on my disability”. With nearly 20 years of experience under her belt, Cecelia is well aware of the expectations and perceptions some people have when they first contact the Commission. Importantly, she initially sets out to establish whether the concerns raised are matters able to be progressed through the Commission’s Dispute Resolution Process. In other words, is this arguable discrimination?
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Success through making a complaint

It is 20 years since disability and sexual orientation were incorporated as grounds of unlawful discrimination into the Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA). Many people worked together to make this happen. With the addition of these grounds, individuals and groups of people from the most affected communities were able to take a complaint about disability or sexual orientation discrimination to the Human Rights Commission. (View in NZSL.)

Portrait of Disability Rights Commissioner Paul GibsonWhile I was at Victoria University in the early 90s, disabled students were challenging the university to improve the way it supported us and make tertiary education accessible. Many gains were made. Then in mid 1994, just after the new HRA grounds came into effect, the Sociology and Social Work Department (which had the highest proportion of disabled students of any department) was shifted from an accessible high rise building near the centre of the campus, to a series of smaller inaccessible buildings on an unsealed building site on the campus’ periphery. At least two students dropped out mid-course. This was seen by the disability community and students as the most visible symptom of a wider system failure; universities’ inability to adequately prioritise the needs of disabled students in decision making. My first involvement with the Human Rights Commission was being part of the group that took this as a class action complaint to the Commission.
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Kotahi te kōhao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro mā, te miro pango, te miro whero.

There is but a single eye of the needle through which white, black and red threads must pass.

Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the first Māori King

Making disability rights real: Whakatūturu ngā tika hauātanga

As the year draws to a close, on the International Day of Disabled People on Monday, 3 December 2012 the world celebrated and reflected on diversity and disability. The Human Rights Commission (The Commission) celebrated with the launch of ‘Making disability rights real: Whakatūturu ngā tika hauātanga’. This is the first annual report of the Independent Monitoring Mechanism of the Convention on the United Nations Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Disability Convention).

On the same day in Christchurch we also launched ‘Better Design for everyone: disabled people’s rights and the built environment’. We also released reports on accessibility to the political process, and to information and communication.

Five years ago, when the Disability Convention we are now monitoring was signed, each state signatory was greeted with brief polite applause at the UN General Assembly, except for one nation. When NZ signed, the world’s representatives stood in applause for several minutes. This was to acknowledge our high level of partnership between disabled people’s organisations and government, and disabled and non-disabled people. The Disability Convention was signed by the then Minister of Disability, the Hon Ruth Dyson and Disabled Person’s Assembly CEO, Gary Williams of Ngāti Porou.

Just as Pōtatau Te Wherowhero called diverse leaders together, the whakataukī (proverb) above tells how the weaving of individually weak threads with a diversity of colours results in the protectiveness of a beautiful and strong korowai (cloak). This same unity and diversity ensured the voices that were usually forgotten could tell their stories, and the United Nations environment was transformed.


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‘We focus on results!’

Making public transport more accessible in the Waikato

Disabled people were able to try out bus travel in Hamilton recently. The ‘Have a Go Day’ gave them the chance to get on and off buses, take their seats and park their wheelchairs without the pressures of the normal timetable. The buses also drove round the block so people had the experience of bus travel – a first for some. People were also able to use the ticketing system. The experience gave disabled people far more confidence to use public transport – in fact one participant arrived in her wheelchair by taxi and decided to go home by bus!

The day also gave bus operators greater understanding of the issues their passengers who live with impairment face on a daily basis when moving around their communities. This successful project was an initiative of CCS Disability Action, the Waikato Regional Council, Go Bus and Pavlovich buses.

Kevin Churchill and Gerri Pomeroy have a go on a bus in Hamilton

Go to CCS Disability Action Waikato for more information.


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Accessible Christchurch

Christchurch is on the way to becoming one of the most accessible cities in the world in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes. A group of disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and others advocating for disabled people’s rights have been advocating for an accessible Christchurch with some success. The Earthquake Disability Leadership Group was formed to ensure that the rebuilding is done in ways that recognise disabled people’s equal rights of access to public facilities, education, employment and recreation.

On Monday, 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, disabled people gathered in Cashel St Mall. It was a day of celebration and for highlighting the issues and opportunities in the rebuild. The day included dance performances, a choir and a flash mob of disabled and non-disabled Cantabrians.

Accessible CHC

For further information contact Bruce Coleman, Senior Policy Analyst, BruceC@hrc.co.nz or phone 03 353 0952.


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The Commission is carrying out an inquiry into the use and promotion of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) as an official language of NZ.

To view the NZSL video click here

NZSL has been an official language of NZ since 2006. Positive things have happened in this time. These include the establishment of a video relay service, an online NZSL dictionary and some government agencies now providing information in NZSL.

However, deaf people continue to experience barriers to the full enjoyment of their human rights. Evidence to support this has been collected from:

  • complaints received by the Commission relating to deaf people experiencing discrimination in accessing and using their language (46 complaints and enquiries have been received since 2006.)
  • extensive community consultations carried out in 2010-2011, policy investigations around access to information and access to political participation.
  • the independent monitoring report of the Convention Coalition, partner in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities monitoring mechanism.
  • reports from disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) such as Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand.

If you would like more information or would like to receive updates on the NZSL Inquiry from the Commission, please contact:

Victoria Manning, Policy Analyst, Disability VictoriaM@hrc.co.nz, Fax: 04 471 6759 or

Bruce Coleman, Senior Policy Analyst, Disability, Brucec@hrc.co.nz, Ph: 03 353 0952


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The first annual report of the Independent Monitoring Mechanism of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was launched on Monday, 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The monitoring mechanism was set up to provide an independent assessment of progress in implementing disabled people’s rights. It provides advocacy and leadership in improving implementation. The mechanism consists of the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and the Convention Coalition, a group of seven disabled people’s organisations.

Making disability rights real

The Independent Monitoring report is available on the Commission website.


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The Upper Hutt City Council (the Council) has recently won two awards for ‘DIScover: serving customers with disabilities’. In August the Council won the 2012 Diversity Award from the Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust. Since then it has also won the NZ Recreation Association Award for Outstanding Project of the Year.

DIScover is a resource kit which aims to educate staff and increase their disability awareness. It provides information on how to best serve customers with disabilities. DIScover was developed by community members who have a range of impairments along with council staff and grew out of the Upper Hutt Disability Forum. This forum, hosted by the council, is where people living with impairments and those who work with people with disabilities can meet regularly and talk about issues in the community. The council was given a grant from the Making a Difference Fund from the Ministry for Social Development to develop this resource.

H20 Xtream swim instructor taking a ‘Give it a go!’ participant through some exercises

Go to the Upper Hutt City Council website for more information about the Disability Strategy.


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The recently-adopted Disability Strategy for the Thames-Coromandel District is guided by the vision that ‘the Coromandel Peninsula is an accessible, inclusive place that values the rights and diversity of each individual’. The Thames-Coromandel District Council (the Council) resolved to develop a disability strategy after a submission was made to its draft 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan.

‘Our council wanted to consider its overall approach to disabled people. Developing the strategy has been a collaborative effort with the community,’ says the Council’s Strategic Policy Planner, Christine Tye. The strategy was developed with individuals, groups and organisations who work locally, regionally and nationally in the disability sector. People with lived experience of disability were also involved. ‘Having this input throughout the process, especially from those at the heart of the strategy is really important to ensure that it is relevant’, says Christine.

The strategy is in-line with both the New Zealand Disability Strategy (Disability Strategy) and the Disability Convention. The Disability Strategy was adopted by the government in 2001. It acknowledges that local authorities have a big impact on the lives of disabled people by the decisions they make. Our government signed the Disability Convention in 2007 and ratified it in 2008.

The Disability Strategy doesn’t just focus on what the district council can do to support disabled people, but also looks at opportunities to work with others. ‘There are lots of positive things already happening being driven by some really passionate people. We want to work alongside them to improve accessibility in our district and to remove barriers to disabled people’s participation in society’, says Christine. At an initial meeting it became evident that there was no established opportunity for people in the disability sector in the area to get together. The council wants to help improve collaboration within the sector, such as establishing a forum to help guide where things go in future.

Council staff Christine Tye and Katina Conomos with Renee Clark, Phillipa Gray and MP for Coromandel Scott Simpson at the launch of the Disability Strategy

 You can read the Disability Strategy on the Thames Coromandel District Council website.


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A fully inclusive society recognises and values disabled people as equal participants. Their needs are understood as integral to the social and economic order and not identified as ‘special’.

To achieve full inclusion, a barrier-free physical and social environment is necessary. The Commission, in consultation with the community, has identified three key areas where disabled people continue to face barriers: the built environment; the accessing of information and political participation.

In late 2011, the Commission released The Wider Journey discussion document which provided information on these issues and invited feedback. As a result of feedback received and further work the discussion document was split into three separate reports. These Disabled People’s Rights reports have brought this information together, and include sections on the NZ context, international best practice, and recommendations for the future.

The three reports are:

The first of these reports, Better Design and Buildings for Everyone: Disabled People’s Rights and the Built Environment, was launched on 3 December 2012, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The launch took place in Christchurch in recognition of the opportunity that now exists to make Christchurch world-class accessible city.


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Everyone in, not out

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.
Charles Evan Hughes

Open your newspaper any day of the week and you’re likely to see people with mental illness portrayed as different, in a usually negative and hostile manner. Reading what are often headline grabbing descriptions of people who are supposedly mentally unwell, and have committed crimes, takes away from the rights of people living with mental illness. Instead it constrains us in the chains of conditioned public opinion.
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The Value of Peer Support Groups

Lessons from the Christchurch earthquakes can be applied in many situations. The proverb “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!” (“What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!”) gave some meaning and direction in the aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake. These words have great poignance, and never more so than in the context of surviving the ups and downs of a mental health condition. Friends, family and health professionals deal with the outward manifestations of mental health speed bumps, but they may not necessarily have experienced what is going on for the affected person. This is where the peer support group has immense value.
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The Mental Health Commission (MHC) was established in 1996 to provide independent advice to the Government following a national inquiry into mental health services in New Zealand regarding the inadequate level of support for people with serious and enduring mental illness who had been moved out of institutions to live the community.  
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Difference enriches our world

Talofa lava, Kia ora,
Fakaalofa lahi atu, Aloha,
Ni sa bula, Malo e lelei, Kia orana,
Taloha ni, Halo olaketa, Warm Pacific Greetings.

My name is Leilani and I work as a Disability Advisor here at the Human Rights Commission. A second generation Pacific person here in Aotearoa, my father immigrated to New Zealand from Fiji and our ancestors were from the villages of Ba and Bega, the fire walkers. I think I do a bit of fire walking myself – in my own way stepping through hot coals at times – and sometimes finding the courage to keep going one step at a time.
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Mental illness, rights, and saying sorry

I am writing this column during Taranaki’s celebration of Mental Illness Awareness week from Parihaka, under the mountain Taranaki.

Taranaki  is said to have gone on a long tearful journey of sadness to the point of depression. He was stopped from throwing himself off a cliff into the sea by the support of his family and community, the rock of Rahotu mustering more support from the ranges. Taranaki now stands forever strong and resilient through periods the roimata, tears of rain. Today, a man identifying as experiencing mental illness returns to Parihaka as part of his own journey of recovery, and he is coming with one of his support people. Like all successful relationships, the benefits don’t all flow one way, the support person acknowledges how much she has learnt and gained.
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The Wellbeing Game – Serious Play

“Games give you new models for looking at the world, they are the ‘ultimate happiness engine’, because they work better than reality — there are better instructions, better feedback and better community.”

Jane McGonigal

This quote from world-renowned game designer, future forecaster and author, Jane McGonigal, resonated with Mental Health Promoter Ciarán Fox of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), who, along with Michelle Whitaker of Healthy Christchurch, and Chris Ambrose of Community & Public Health invented the Wellbeing Game – a joint initiative with Healthy Christchurch and the Christchurch District Health Board (CDHB).
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The focus of Ivan Yeo’s work is reducing the barriers of stigma and discrimination for Asian mental health consumers and their families. He has a particular interest in the issues facing migrants. Ivan spoke at the recent Diversity Forum workshop on “The Quest = Human Rights + Asian Mental Health”. (View this in NZSL.)

Kai Xin Xing Dong

Kai Xin Xing Dong (KXXD) is an online programme which conveys messages about mental health to Chinese people. The aim is to reduce stigma and discrimination. There are resources in Chinese and English for people who are experiencing mental health issues, and information about events in the community. Other organisations are able to list their information on the site. Kai Xin Xing Dong is a Like Minds, Like Mine public education initiative.

The content is regularly updated to suit current events. For example, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon and babies born this year are known as “dragon babies”. KXXD has therefore taken the opportunity to develop new resources on the needs of babies and parents.

The KXXD website is bright and attractive, reaching out to people in many cultures. It has received a lot of positive feedback. The organisers hope that people will be conduits of information and tell their friends and family about the site and its many resources.

KXXD also offers workshops for professionals to help them work effectively with the Chinese community. He says since the website started in 2005, the organisers have noticed improvements as a result of the work that KXXD does. (View this in NZSL.)

www.kaixinxingdong.org.nz
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Christchurch really needs a disability support coordinator to work with people in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, say two well-known community advocates. Girdhari Kadariya and Taz Mukorombindo work together to support people in the CALD communities of Christchurch. Girdhari is based at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of technology (CPIT) and Taz works with the Canterbury Business Association. They say that a coordinator could help disabled people cope with the effects of the earthquakes and plan for the city’s recovery.

Both Girdhari and Taz argue strongly for ongoing support to disabled people in the CALD communities of Christchurch. There needs to be a permanent position. “Volunteers are good, but there aren’t enough of them and too many people need help,” says Taz. “One disability support coordinator isn’t really enough for Christchurch, where there are over 140 different cultural and linguistic groups. But it’d be a good first step.”

All towns and cities should consider doing the same. “There is a need for disability support coordinators everywhere” says Girdhari, “because any area can be affected by disaster.” (View this in NZSL.)
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A panel at the Diversity Forum on 20th August discussed issues of language promotion and protection as they apply to our official languages Te Reo and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

Panellist included Glenis Philip-Barbara, Chief Executive Officer of Te Taura Whir ii te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission), Patrick Thompson, Kaiwhakahaere for Ngati Turi o Aotearoa, of Ngati Paoa/Whanaunga, and Karen Pointon, another Māori Deaf leader of Ngapuhi and Ngati Hine decent. (View this in NZSL.)
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Disability is Diversity

Portrait of Disability Rights Commissioner Paul GibsonBy Paul Gibson, Disability Rights Commissioner | Kaihautū Tika Hauātanga

Kotahi te kōhao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro mā, te miro pango, te miro whero.
There is but a single eye of the needle through which white, black and red threads must pass.

– Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the first Māori King

The Diversity Forum, held in August each year, is the pinnacle celebratory, learning and sharing event of the Human Rights Commission’s New Zealand Diversity Action Programme. It arose in response to the desecration of the graves of Jewish people a decade ago in Makara (near Wellington), here in New Zealand (NZ).

This was an extreme act of intolerance for ethnic and religious diversity. The holocaust, that included the slaughter of six million Jews seven decades ago, directly led to the development of international human rights law, and structures to protect it such as the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. The Commission’s logo, drawing on the whakatauki of Pōtatau te Wherowhero, shows how the weaving of individually weak threads with a diversity of colours results in the protectiveness of a beautiful and strong korowai (cloak). (View this in NZSL.)
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The Commission would like to congratulate Chief Executive of DPA, Gary Williams of Ngāti Porou, who has been recognised in the recent Queen’s Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours by being awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services representing the interests of disabled people both nationally and internationally. Gary who was instrumental in helping to organise the hui, says it will work to encourage and support Māori leadership within the disability community. He recognises the importance of rebuilding the relationships te hunga hauā should have with their marae and whānau.

The following is Gary’s perspective on Māori and Disability:
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A two day hui for Māori to discuss disability issues will be held at Makaurau Marae from Friday 22 June in the Auckland suburb of Māngere. Jointly hosted by the Human Rights Commission,the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA), and the Mana Whenua of Makaurau Marae, the hui Ngā Tapuwae o Hape (the Footsteps of Hape) will focus on how to improve the rights of all disabled people. In each age group Māori are more likely to be disabled than non-Maori.

Hui details

Friday 22 June – Powhiri  2pm
Makaurau Marae, 8 Ruaiti Rd
Ihumatao Māngere, Manukau City

For RSVP or further information please contact : Leilani Thompson-Rikys  email: leilanit@hrc.co.nz or call 09 375 8642

Manahau, mana hauā, and Matariki

The Matariki sky. A crescent moon gives a toothless grin from a sinking sky into an icy hauāuru sunset. The star cluster Matariki (and star Puanga) have been seen twinkling before dawn. The transition between years is ending in the land of Aotearoa. The land was fished up by Māui on the jawbone of his blind grandmother, Muri-ranga-whenua. In times past the long cold dark evenings provided the opportunity for storytelling. People would sit and listen to the tales emanating from the jawbones of the elders. They told of the people gone before; stories connecting people and the land; and experiences of difference, disability, mana, and wisdom every generation has needed to know to sustain themselves and pass on. Hōtoke, winter, was a time when hunga hauā and kaumātua were vulnerable to illnesses of the cold. I have heard from one kaumātua that Matariki was also a time when disabled people were reputed to be at their most powerful, and utu would come upon those who had wronged them during the year.

The Human Rights Commission is giving a focus to Māori and disability issues around this time of Matariki. We aim to spark new kōrero on disability rights within Māori communities, and indigenous and Tiriti rights in disability communities. Like the story of Māui and his grandmother, there are many mana enhancing narratives of disability in te ao Māori, and we hope to be part of a renaissance, to recover more of the almost forgotten disability wisdom, generate wider kōrero on disability rights amongst those who may not have previously engaged, and apply it to the issues of today for the benefit and inspiration of the whānau hauā.
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How Karangahape Rd earned its name

Ike Rakena manages Makaurau Marae, left tetraplegic after a rugby league accident, he acknowledged the kaupapa that sees his marae founded by an ancestor with a disability.
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It’s time to look at disabilities from indigenous perspectives, says Dr Huhana Hickey, a lawyer, advocate and disabled Māori woman with multiple sclerosis.
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Funding for Māori mental health services has suffered a downturn says Rangi McLean who works for a Māori public health provider Hāpai Te Hauora Tāpui in Auckland.
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Marae plan to lift accessibility

The Waikato District Health Board continues to be part of a wider group, including CCS Disability Action, on a project to improve accessibility for marae.
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Jordon Milroy is a 22-year-old student of social sciences at the Auckland University of Technology who will be climbing up the Sky Tower last week (17 April).  For many non disabled  people it would be a challenge but for Jordan it’s even more so as he has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. (View this article in NZSL.)
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Rachel Noble has been working as the DPA’s chief executive for just a few weeks and says it’s a privilege to be in her new role.  Rachel is Deaf and was previously the CEO of Deaf Aotearoa for more than five years.  She comes from a background of Deaf education and says it’s an exciting time to be part of the disabled community with new opportunities emerging so people’s aspirations can be realised.  “After focusing within the Deaf sector I really enjoyed working with other disabled person’s organisations so this role provides me with the opportunity to continue.  Each group is diverse yet at another level we are all so united by our shared experiences in this world.  Celebrating our diversity and unity is important as we advance as a community.” ( View this article in NZSL.)


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The country’s first Deaf MP Mojo Mathers wants to ensure Parliament is fully accessible to all New Zealanders. (View this article in NZSL.)
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Voice Thru Your Hands is a voluntary organisation set up by a Palmerston North mum Alison Attwell to bring the benefits of NZSL to those with delayed speech and other disabilities. (View this article in NZSL.)


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See how to communicate

Portrait of Sonia Pivac, Creative Director at Seeflow

A unique nationwide online sign language translation service promises to open a raft of ways for Deaf people to better connect in their work and life.

Seeflow, based in Auckland, offers a new service for Deaf people who need documents, emails, contracts, articles and so on, translated into New Zealand Sign Language.   Creative director Sonia Pivac says NZSL is New Zealand’s third official language and it should be more common and accessible. (View this article in NZSL.)


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I am Deaf - the logo for New Zealand Sign Language Week

At 5am on 6 February 2012, Aotearoa New Zealand celebrated its founding day in its three official languages. (View this article in NZSL.)

Amongst the dawn chorus of priests, politicians, and protesters preaching, the trees shifting in the breeze, the bagpipes whining, and the wisest of interjections from a ruru (morepork), the noise was only broken by the silence of the signing of Te Tiriti.

Seven generations on from the original signing, the Waitangi dawn service was literally signed, in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), an official language of New Zealand for the last six years. We now expect events of national importance to celebrate and acknowledge our three official languages. We also expect such events to be accessible to everyone, including Deaf New Zealanders.
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The Canterbury quake: one year on

This special edition of Manahau looks at how the Christchurch rebuild is responding to the needs and issues of people with disabilities a year on from the earthquake that levelled much of the city and forced people to leave their homes and communities.

New recreation centre fails first test

If the newly-completed Graham Condon Recreation and Sport Centre in Papanui is an example of how the rebuild is happening, then people with disabilities have cause for concern. 


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A family’s story

Andrea Lamont’s 19-year-old son Tyler has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user.  He is also visually impaired and autistic.  Since last February’s quake his caregiver has been his mum as employed staff left to care for their own family and friends.


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A year ago, the Welfare Working Group released a report with a strong focus on incentives and sanctions on beneficiaries to reduce benefit uptake. Many disabled people on benefits are already disconnected and isolated, in real poverty, some homeless or in mini-institutions, with no work and few job options. 


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Disabled people remain in limbo

Ruth Jones, a member of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s community forum, is concerned that too many disabled people remain in limbo one year on.


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Bruce Coleman is the project manager for the Human Rights Commission’s work post earthquake project. The Commission regards the post-earthquake situation as a pressing priority for human rights and a team has been monitoring and responding to human rights issues.


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Paul GibsonTom Shakespeare, world renown disability academic, writer, and activist, and disability advisor to the World Health Organisation was travelling to NZ to be part of the inaugural Disability Studies Conference “Every Body In” at Otago University.  During the long flight around the world, in preparation for his visit to the Pacific, Tom, who describes himself as a “person with restricted growth”, chose a Samoan language film, not knowing what it was about.
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Justice is paws ahead

Justice the ‘guide dog in training’ has successfully passed his 20 walk assessment and been formally accepted into formal training with a guide dog trainer. 
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The Human Rights Commission says over the last year it received about 1350 complaints about unlawful discrimination and around 400 of those related to a person’s disability. Of that number just three were from Pacific people.  Mediator  Pele Walker at the Commission’s Enquiries and Complants Service says the low number of disabled people from the islands coming forward is for cultural reasons – many don’t like to speak out, while others aren’t aware they can complain about such issues to the Commission.  ‘When Pacific people ring to make a complaint they are often shy and worried, then they may ring to get some information but not take it any further.’ 
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The Halberg Trust, organisers of the the annual Westpac Halberg Sports Awards for nearly 50 years, has just introduced a ‘Disabled Sportsperson of the Year’ category and the winner, like those from the existing ‘Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year’ categories will be eligible for the supreme Halberg award which is regarded as the highest annual sporting honour. 
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The Everybody In conference  includes guest speaker Dr Tom Shakespeare, a social scientist who has researched and taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Sunderland, Leeds and Newcastle. A prolific writer and broadcaster, his books include The Sexual Politics of Disability and Disability Rights and Wrongs.
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This week saw the opening of an inaugural three day conference focusing on disability issues which was held at the University of Otago in Dunedin.  Organisers say they had to close registrations early as the number of people wanting to attend was so high.  About 320 delegates attended and heard more than 80 papers and presentations. 
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Pacific advocate for change

One of the key speakers at The Orator’s screening is Pati Umaga. He became a tetraplegic about six years ago after slipping in the bathroom, and is an example of a disabled Pacific person who is a high achiever.  Mr Umaga describes himself as a disability advocate. 
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The Human Rights Commission is joining up with Te Papa museum in Wellington in an event that focuses on disability and  Pacific peoples.  A film called The Orator is being shown at a theatre in the museum. The main character is a Samoan man with a disability, and the film depicts how he is ostracised from his society. 
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On 3 December, the United Nations asks us all to acknowledge the approximately 15 per cent of the population who are people with disabilities.
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Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan says the decision to integrate a disability action plan with the rebuilding of Christchurch will continue to pay social and economic dividends for decades to come.


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The lack of statistics about disabled people in the workplace is a major problem, says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor.


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On 12 July, 2011, the first meeting between the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues and the three agencies charged with monitoring progress on the protection and implementation of disabled people’s human rights was held at the Beehive.


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The Disability Convention was the first human rights convention of the 21st century. The convention affirms the need to ensure human rights are recognised for disability communities.


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The new Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission David Rutherford has valuable experience in the disability sector and has expressed his deep interest in ensuring the human rights of disabled New Zealanders are realised.


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Human Rights Commission

Senior Policy Analyst (Disability), Strategic Team

Fixed term to June 2013, part time (0.6 or 0.8 FTE)

Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch

The Human Rights Commission advocates and promotes respect for an understanding of human rights in New Zealand society, and encourages the maintenance of harmonious relations in New Zealand.

The Commission is seeking a Senior Policy Analyst who is a disability specialist to contribute to the Commission’s enhanced responsibilities to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Commission particularly welcomes applications from people with lived experience of disability.

This role is being recruited alongside a Policy Analyst (Disability) role, with location and FTE to be agreed once both this and the other position have both been appointed.  One of the two positions will be Wellington based.  The preference is for the larger portion of the FTE to reside with the senior role.

Key responsibilities:

  • contribute to strategic thinking, development & planning and provide strategic advice to the Commission in disability legislation, policy and practice, particularly regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
  • lead the delivery of assigned projects, submissions on draft legislation and other policy interventions, primarily but not exclusively on disability issues, and maintain an overview of the Commission’s disability programme
  • provide high quality policy advice to Commissioners, the Executive Director and Managers and respond to ‘broader human rights matters’ that are brought before the Commission primarily but not exclusively on disability issues.
  • undertake mentoring of staff and peer review, participate as a member of the Commission’s Senior Staff Forum and deputise for the Manager Strategic Policy if required

Person Specification and Position Competencies:

  • a relevant University degree (and higher degree is desirable)
  • knowledge of and extensive experience in government and parliamentary public policy issues and processes and experience in the provision of policy advice
  •  understanding of and an ability to effectively operate in the dynamic and challenging political environment in which the Commission operates
  • knowledge of the human rights legal framework, race relations,  human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi with  particular expertise in the area of disability. 
  • excellent writing skills and ability to prepare logical and persuasive written material to support policy advocacy, and to advocate and communicate effectively in a range of policy environments
  • highly developed strategic capability with an ability to maintain a focus on long term goals, and leadership, staff supervision and peer review skills
  • an strong understanding of research, monitoring, intervention analysis, and evaluation methodologies with strong knowledge of and experience in project management and information management

Full position details are provided within the job description available from the Commission. Contact Louise to request a copy, details below.

The position is located within the Commission’s Strategic Policy team.  The team’s purpose is to deliver high quality strategic advice, advocacy, information, project work, and the monitoring of legislation, policy and practice in order to protect and promote respect for human rights, harmonious race relations, equal employment opportunities and the Treaty of Waitangi.

To express your interest in this role please send your CV and covering letter to:

Email:      humanresources@hrc.co.nz

Phone:    Louise Flemming, Human Resources Officer, on 09 309 0874

Post:        PO Box 6751, Wellesley Street, Auckland, 1142

Ref:          GY2856

Applications to be received by 5pm on Monday 18 July 2011

The Human Rights Commission is a member of the Equal Employment Opportunities Employers Group, which obliges the Commission to adhere to EEO principles in operations, including all aspects of recruitment.

Fighting for disability rights

Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Disabled people continue to have to fight for their rights because society denies them justice, respect and a fair go.

Recently at the fantastic DPA Conference held in Invercargill (congratulations, DPA!) I was asked whether the Human Rights Commission thought it was acceptable that disabled people should have to struggle through mediation and litigation, often for many years with added emotional stress and financial hardship?

Of course, the Human Rights Commission does not think this is acceptable. We acknowledge the amazing sacrifice of  those who fight for the rights of disabled people and offer as much support as we can in the process.

Without those truly courageous disabled people who are prepared to fight, societal attitudes will never change, remedies will not be available to those who have suffered human rights abuses, and government responses and service delivery will never improve.

In this edition of Manahau we feature a disability rights and accommodation case in which Justice was done. It relates to Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This states that State Parties shall ensure that “private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accountability for persons with disabilities”.

Can I wish all Manahau readers and their families and supporters very warm Christmas greetings on behalf of staff, managers and Commissioners of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. I would like to especially thank Victoria Manning for her great work writing Manahau in 2010.

Nga mihi mo te Kirihimete.

J McGregor's signature

 Judy McGregor

A case of puppy Justice

Justice, the puppy

Justice, the puppy

Tauranga woman Laura Eitjes found herself in the limelight last year when she set out on an unintended journey towards justice. While holidaying in 2007, Laura and her friend’s stay at a North Island holiday accommodation was cut short when Laura (legally blind since the age of 17) was told her guide dog could no longer stay in her room.


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Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner

The Government has announced it will establish a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner within the Human Rights Commission. It also announced that the Commission will be part of the independent monitoring of the Disability Convention.


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Nicola Owen (right) and Shae Ronald

Nicola Owen (right) and Shae Ronald

Nicola Owen, from Auckland Disability Law, has started work at the Human Rights Commission on a six-month secondment (short-term contract). Ms Owen will be supporting the Commission’s disability programme work, including organising community meetings on the Disability Convention. Information from these meetings will then be used for the Commission’s independent report to the United Nations on the Disability Convention, due in 2011. 


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Talking with disabled people

A New Zealand Sign Langauge sign for "talk"

A New Zealand Sign Langauge sign for "talk"

The Human Rights Commission wants to meet with disabled people to hear their stories and to make sure disabled people’s voices are included in its work. This work includes updating the Human Rights Action Plan and the Commission’s independent report to the United Nations on the Disability Convention.


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Disabled people losing out in job market

Disabled people have more difficulties getting and keeping work. They are often in jobs below their skill level, and  are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. These findings are part of a report from the Human Rights Commission called “What Next? National Conversations about Work” which has a focus on disabled people and employment issues.

The report reveals that in the recent economic downturn, disabled people have experienced high levels of unemployment and redundancy.  


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Government must employ more disabled people

The Disability Convention lists employing more disabled people in the public sector as an important part of ensuring disabled people’s right to work. Article 27 of the Disability Convention bluntly tells governments to “employ persons with disabilities in the public sector”.

As New Zealand’s largest employer and signatory to the Disability Convention, the Government should serve as a good model for private-sector employers.


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Disabled young people need more services

Disabled young people are almost twice as likely as young non-disabled people to leave school without a qualification.

One of the biggest issues facing disabled young people and their parents is the need for planned transitions from school to work, tertiary education or training and other meaningful day-time activities. The Journey to Work document calls for a national transition planning process for young disabled people.

A recommendation of the National Conversation about Work report was that every young New Zealander should have an individual youth-to-work plan. The report found that services are failing too many young people who are not well prepared for their first job.


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Anne Hawker

Anne Hawker

A new network to promote best practice in employing disabled people needs to define actions and targets to ensure it can be effective.

The Employers’ Disability Network aims to assist employers to become confident at hiring disabled people, and to recruit and retain disabled people in jobs.

The Network is holding their first strategic meeting early in 2011 to identify their next steps and priorities. Some clear data and targets are needed to help get more disabled people into work and make sure disabled people retain their jobs.


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Message from the Chief Commissioner

Rosslyn Noonan Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Rosslyn Noonan Chief Human Rights Commissioner

EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor will be leading the Human Rights Commission’s work on the rights of disabled people for the year ahead. This is a priority area for me as Chief Commissioner. I will be working alongside Judy and continuing to be actively involved. We will be supported by Commissioner Richard Tankersley. We have asked him, as a first priority, to assist with the establishment of a network of Maori disabled people to ensure a strong indigenous dimension to the Commission’s work on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Richard will also work on the establishment of a Pacific Group.

A further signal of the priority the Commission places on this work is the high level staff involvement, including Executive Director, Joanna Collinge; Manager Strategic Policy Susan Freeman Greene; Manager External Relations, Shae Ronald; Kaiwhakariti Hemi Pirihi; and of course, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor, Bruce Coleman and Victoria Manning, Advisor.

We will keep you up to date as we develop plans for engagement throughout New Zealand.

R Noonan's signature

Rosslyn Noonan

Power to the people…

Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Dr Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Congratulations to People First NZ and the other members of the public who fought and won a battle over broadcaster Paul Henry calling singer Susan Boyle a “retard”. The Commission is delighted that the Broadcasting Standards Authority’s (BSA) very strong decision recognised that people with intellectual disabilities deserved respect and dignity. That’s the good news.

Television New Zealand broadcast a prepared statement on the Breakfast programme on Monday 26 July. And that’s the bad news. In my opinion, the nature of the statement was profoundly disappointing. Television New Zealand abandoned its celebrity status promotion of presenters and referred throughout to an unnamed “presenter”. There was no apology and nor was the statement available on its website content.


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Professor Ron McCallum

Professor Ron McCallum

A visiting United Nations expert wants disabled people to put pressure on the Government to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Governments are responsible for making sure the Disability Convention is implemented, but government action depends on disabled people voicing their desires. “We are each responsible to make sure the Disability Convention happens,” said Professor Ron McCallum, the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on a recent visit to New Zealand hosted by the Human Rights Commission.


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Hon Tariana Turia Minister for Disability Issues

Hon Tariana Turia Minister for Disability Issues

The Human Rights Commission will receive an extra $300,000 per year to promote, protect and monitor the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Minister for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia, attended a disability community meeting at the Human Rights Commission to make a special Budget day announcement on 20th May.

The extra funding will enable the Commission to increase its advocacy for disabled people’s rights. It will help enable the Commission to act as an independent, public advocate to promote awareness of disabled people’s rights and help monitor the Disability Convention.


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Haere rā to Commissioner Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt’s term as a part-time Commissioner finished at the end of June. Over the years, Robyn has made a huge contribution to the Commission and to improving rights for disabled New Zealanders.

“As Commissioner over the last eight years, I have been very lucky to have taken part in the ground-breaking development and New Zealand’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities,” Robyn says. “I was privileged to have this opportunity and it was an amazing experience.”


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hrc-review-of-human-rights-picThe Commission is reviewing human rights in New Zealand. In 2004, the Commission published Human Rights in New Zealand Today, which formed the basis for the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights 2005-2010 – Mana i ki te Tangata. The action plan has led the direction of the Commission’s work as a human rights guardian and advocate.

The Commission is now checking on progress. Where has New Zealand done well and where could the country do better to ensure a fair, safe and just society?


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Deaf education discussion

The Ministry of Education (the Ministry) is considering ways to improve specialist education services for deaf and hearing impaired children and young people.

The Human Rights Commission made a submission on the Ministry’s Deaf Education Discussion. The Commission supports Deaf Education Aotearoa New Zealand’s view that current education services are not integrated and equitable.


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The Human Rights Commission is continuing work to help make sure whānau hauā, Māori disabled people, are involved in implementing and monitoring the Disability Convention.

If you are interested in this work or would like to be added to the Commission’s Māori Disabled contact list, please email Bruce Coleman BruceC@hrc.co.nz or Victoria Manning VictoriaM@hrc.co.nz or phone Bruce on (03) 353 0952.

Asia Pacific OutGames 2011

outgames-pic-july-2010As an integral part of the Asia Pacific OutGames March 2011, in Wellington, the organisers are hosting a three-day human rights conference.

Expressions of interest are sought from people who have proposals to contribute to the conference. This could include showcasing work, organising a presentation, or being part of a panel discussion. For more information, go to the OutGames website: www.wellingtonoutgames.com.


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pic_special-educ-review

Review discussion document

The Government’s Review of Special Education began last year. Hon Heather Roy, the Minister responsible for Special Education, released the Terms of Reference for this review in August 2009.

On 3 February 2010, the Minister published the review discussion document, saying, “The Special Education Review document proposes a vision for students with special education needs, outlines how the system works currently and asks what needs to change. I urge parents, families, teachers, students, and the education and disability sectors to submit their views”.


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There have been a number of analyses and reports into education for disabled people in New Zealand recently. Each has identified various issues and concerns.

The Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Auditor-General and the Education Review Office have all made various findings, some of which are summarised here.


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Paul Gibson

Paul Gibson

Paul Gibson has his work cut out for him. Working at the policy and strategic level, he’s tackling two of the biggest areas affecting disabled people’s lives: health and education.

Paul is the Senior Disability Advisor at Capital and Coast Health. He works to ensure DHBs, hospitals and health services are responsive to disabled people. “Some disabled people have health issues related to their impairment. When these are accounted for, disabled people have significantly worse health outcomes than non-disabled people,” says Paul.


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Hon. Tariana Turia

Hon. Tariana Turia

E hari katoa ana te ngākau o Tariana Turia i te putanga mai o te whakamaoritanga o te Te Kawenata a te Kotahitanga o ngā Whenua o te Ao mō ngā Tika Tangata ā te Hunga Hauā.

Last month, the Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Tariana Turia, announced the release of two te reo Māori translations of the Disability Convention. One is the official English text and the other is an easy read version.


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New CEO for DPA

Ross Brereton

Ross Brereton

A new chief executive officer has been appointed to lead the Disabled Persons Assembly Inc (DPA) – Ross Brereton.

Some people in the disability sector will be familiar with Ross from his 30 years of involvement in disability issues. “I’ve been part of the disability community all of my life, as I have a congenital visual impairment.”


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The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO recently published a new resource. It provides information in response to frequently asked questions about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The information includes:

  • what are human rights?
  • what is a convention?
  • how does the convention work?

The resource is available in HTML and PDF on the UNESCO website.

Editorial

Commissioner Robyn Hunt

Commissioner Robyn Hunt

We are nearly three months into 2010 and already there is a lot happening. I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday break, although it probably seems a long time ago now.

A new year brings a new CEO for DPA. I am looking forward to working with Ross Brereton and warmly welcome his appointment.

Readers’ feedback has suggested that each edition of Manahau could have a focus on one Article of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We liked the idea and have begun with a timely focus for this edition on Article 24 – the Right to Education.

You can find out about the status of disabled children’s right to education and the Government’s Review of Special Education and other reports on the right to education. Have your say and join the discussions and consultation forums taking place around New Zealand.

Māori disabled people will be glad to be able to read the CRPD in te reo along with all the other formats and versions of the Disability Convention. It is significant that the Convention is now available in all three of our national languages, so everyone in the disability community can know about their rights.

Education is a basic necessity for all people. It is a fundamental right. It is the primary means by which disadvantaged people can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in their community. It gives independence, citizenship rights, employment and economic power.

There are 50 Articles (sections) in the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities. Article 24 is about disabled people’s right to education. It’s not surprising that this Article is one of the longest in the Disability Convention.


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Landmark Victory in Human Rights Case

Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan

Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan

The Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan has called on the Government to begin carer payments immediately to a group of parents looking after severely disabled adult children after they were victorious in a human rights case.


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The Human Rights Commission has begun working with Māori disabled people to develop a partnership to promote and monitor the implementation of the Disability Convention.


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Dr Huhana Hickey

Dr Huhana Hickey

Ko Karioi toku maunga
Ko Whaingaroa toku moana
Ko Pukerewa me Weraroa marae
Ko Ngati Tahinga toku hapu
Ko Waikato toku iwi
Ko Tainui toku waka
Ko Huhana Hickey toku ingoa

Dr Huhana Hickey is a lawyer and works at Auckland Disability Law Services. One of her passions is teaching disabled people about the law so they can feel empowered to advocate for themselves. Her job gives her an excellent opportunity to do this.


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Disability complaints remain high

The Human Rigths Commission’s Annual Report 2009 shows there has been little or no improvement in human rights for disabled people. An analysis of complaints received by the Commission shows a continuing pattern of difficulties faced by disabled people.

Of all complaints received by the Commission over the last year, a total of 30.6% were about disability discrimination. This is slightly higher than the previous two years (28.7% in 2006-7, and 26.8% in 2007-8). Disability discrimination is the single largest category of complaints received by the Commission.


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The Human Rights Commission has a project to promote and protect equal employment opportunities (EEO) in New Zealand. This is the National Conversation About Work project. As part of this work the Commission’s EEO team are meeting people around the country to discuss fairness at work.

In October, Commission staff visited the Hawke’s Bay region, where they met members of the Deaf community and disabled people.


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Human Rights Action Plan – update

Wheelchair basketball

Wheelchair basketball

The Human Rights Commission is starting work on a new Human Rights Action Plan for the next five years.

In 2003, the Human Rights Commission talked to people all over New Zealand to find out what were the most important human rights issues they faced. Human Rights in New Zealand Today was published in 2004, followed by the Action Plan 2005-2010, which included a chapter on disabled people.

The Commission is updating information on human rights in NZ for the new Action Plan 2010-2015.


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New Zealand Sign Language

New Zealand Sign Language

Discussions about how to plan for the promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) have been taking place, with the support of the Human Rights Commission.

Deaf community stakeholders have identified serious barriers to language rights for deaf people. Many of these problems are not being addressed by the NZSL Act 2006.


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Wendi Wicks, Minister Pansy Wong, Robyn Hunt & Brian Gardner

Wendi Wicks, Minister Pansy Wong, Robyn Hunt & Brian Gardner

New Zealand’s first Disability Clothesline project was launched on 25 November, White Ribbon Day. This is a visible statement of the “silent epidemic” of abuse and violence against disabled people in New Zealand.

Pansy Wong, Associate Minister of Disability Issues, launched the project in Wellington. The clothesline is strung with t-shirts that showcase messages by disabled people who have been hurt, or in some cases murdered.

This project complements the White Ribbon Day message that violence against women is not OK.


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Gary Williams

Gary Williams

Ko Marotiri te maunga
Ko Mangahauini te awa
Ko Te Whanau-a-Ruataupare te hapu
Ko Ngati Porou te iwi

Gary Williams is departing after almost 11 years leading the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA). In this article Gary reflects on one of the highlights of his work as DPA’s CEO and how this is relevant today.

Indigenous disabled peoples’ issues are receiving more and more attention, helped by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Gary participated in meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York when the Disability Convention was being negotiated, from 2003-2006. Gary says, “New Zealand worked hard to get the Disability Convention to recognise indigenous disabled peoples’ issues.”


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Banking guidelines launched

Sarah Mehrtens & Robyn Hunt

Sarah Mehrtens & Robyn Hunt

The New Zealand Bankers’ Association has launched new voluntary customer service guidelines to assist banks to provide better service to disabled and older customers.

Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt and Bankers Association Chief Executive Sarah Mehrtens launched the guidelines on 30 November at Deaf Aotearoa NZ’s national office.


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Editorial

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

Today is the UN International Day of Disabled People, a day for celebration, action for change and to promote better understanding of disability issues. In this issue we note both progress and problems.

A Celebration of the launch of the Bankers Association Guidelines for the banking industry on providing service for older and disabled customers began the week on a positive note.

We talk to Maori disabled leaders about their issues, and what the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People means to them. The Commission is building networks with Maori disabled people so our disability human rights work is inclusive

Complaints numbers remain high and we look at issues for Deaf New Zealanders through the National Conversation about work. There are updates on the Human Rights Action Plan, and the development of a New Zealand Sign Language Strategy.

We wish you a happy and safe holiday period and may 2010 be a notable year for human rights progress!

NZSL version of Disability Convention

NZSL version of Disability Convention

NZSL version of Disability Convention

New Zealand is the second country after Hungary to produce a full translation of the CRPD into its national sign language.

Produced by Handmade Productions, the translation proved to be challenging due to its length and legal jargon. Paul Wolffram (director/producer) noted, “We were fortunate in securing a skilled team to complete the pre-production translation work. This helped ensure the NZSL translation was as close to the original English text as possible.”


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Disability at the Diversity Forum 2009

Youth at the Diversity Forum

Youth at the Diversity Forum

This year’s Diversity Forum included two workshops looking at disability and ethnicity. Hosted by CCS Disability Action, the sessions provided a space to talk about a subject often overlooked by the disability and ethnic/race relations sectors.


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Editorial

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

I’m still feeling excited by the Diversity Forum, facilitated by the Human Rights Commission in Wellington in August. For the second year running disability and diversity workshops made lively contributions.

On the subject of diversity, a new bilingual website focusing on Chinese people and mental health is breaking new ground.

This edition there is news of the eagerly awaited release of the terms of reference for the review of Special Education.

The Commission has just published a paper on the right to education for disabled children and young people and released a survey on disability discrimination.

Those fluent in New Zealand Sign Language should feel pleased that New Zealand is the second country to produce the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in NZSL.

Finally, Manahau interviews new Workbridge CEO Grant Cleland.

As always, we welcome your feedback.

Robyn Hunt

Commissioner

Making disability work, Grant Cleland

Grant Cleland

Grant Cleland

Creating more jobs for people with a disability, injury or illness is top of the “to do” list for new Workbridge CEO, Grant Cleland.

Grant credits the Mainstream Employment Programme, now run by the Ministry of Social Development, for opening the door to long-term employment for him. It built his skills and facilitated his training as a social worker.


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New paper on right to education

Disabled Children's Right to Education paper

Disabled Children's Right to Education paper

Disabled Children’s Right to Education has been published in response to complaints raised with the Commission. The paper assesses how well the right to education for disabled children and young people is being realised. The Commission and others will use the paper to advocate for this right and also contribute to the Government’s Review of Special Education.(See article in this newsletter.)


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Special Education review

Hon Heather Roy

Hon Heather Roy

A review of Special Education has been initiated by the Hon. Heather Roy, the Associate Minister of Education with responsibility for Special Education.

“We aim to ensure that Special Education policies and processes are fair and consistent, reach those most in need, make the best use of existing Government funding, and that parents have choices,” says Mrs Roy.


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Debi Leahy & Lynette Pivac

Debi Leahy & Lynette Pivac

The NZ Police recognise they need to provide services and support that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for Deaf people. Debi Leahy a community constable in Henderson, Auckland, spends 20 per cent of her time working with the Deaf Community.


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Making rights real: Discrimination survey

A survey commissioned by the Commission has found people with a disability or health condition are often discriminated against.

The survey identified an alarming 18 per cent of overall respondents and 28 per cent of disabled respondents had been discriminated against due to a disability or health condition.


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Making rights real: Kai Xin Xing Dong

A website has been launched to help reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness in New Zealand’s Chinese community. It is thought to be the first project in a Western country to use culturally appropriate approaches to counter stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness in Chinese communities.


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Making rights real: Know your rights

Disabled people in New Zealand have rights. Come along to hear and discuss your rights. DPA is running two workshops.


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We have the technology

I extend a warm welcome to the Manahau: Resilience and Celebration “bloghood”.


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Yakking about work

Employment statistics and sources suggest equal employment opportunities are not a reality for many disabled people. So, in the rapidly changing world of work, what needs to happen for disabled people to achieve fairness and equality in the workplace?


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The Human Rights Commission wants to find out exactly how “bumpy” the so-called accessible journey still is for disabled people. Answers to an online survey will give the Commission an important snapshot of progress, as well as forming part of a review of continuing gaps.


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Make like a butterfly

New Zealand Sign Language Week logo

New Zealand Sign Language Week logo

Sign language awareness week saw hundreds of people throughout New Zealand “make like a butterfly” when they sampled one of Deaf Aotearoa’s sign language taster classes.


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Robyn’s editorial

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

This month has been exciting for the Deaf community. Sign Language Week is bigger and better each year and the inspired butterfly logo has captured the public imagination. The launch of the international report Deaf People and Human Rights is a milestone on their human rights journey. Good quality information like this will be critical for monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

For those people who have been able to attend the Human Rights Firm Festival, there has been a lot on offer. A review of NoBody’s Perfect can be found in the newsletter.

As always, we welcome your feedback on human rights issues.

No rights without sign language

“There can be no human rights for Deaf people without sign language,” said Commissioner Robyn Hunt in launching the international report report Deaf People and Human Rights recently.


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Anne Hawker

Anne Hawker

As the first woman president of Rehabilitation International, New Zealander Anne Hawker is used to being at the forefront of change.

Nine months into leading Rehabilitation International (RI), an organisation representing disabled people from over 80 nations, she’s getting plenty of opportunity to be involved on both international and local scenes.


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Naked Truth

NoBody's Perfect

NoBody’s Perfect recently screened at New Zealand’s Human Rights Film Festival. The movie tells the story of 12 people, all affected by the drug thalidomide, who agree to pose naked for a book and exhibition.


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Commissioner Robyn Hunt

Commissioner Robyn Hunt

Manahau: Resilience and Celebration is the name chosen for the latest newsletter published by the Human Rights Commission.

Published quarterly, Manahau will build connections between those committed to progress on issues concerning people with disability. For the origin of the name, see the story in this edition.

We have some important work ahead as we turn our energy to monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New Zealand’s first report to the International Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations is due in September 2010.

Late last year the visit of Marcia Roux, co-director of the International Disability Rights Promotion Project provided much insight. This year disability law expert and Irish Human Rights Commissioner Gerard Quinn offered his perspective on implementing the convention. Both visits are covered in this edition.

Finally I urge you to read our story about the Hamilton City Accessible Journey trial. The project proves the value of building teams that include all stakeholders to make real our catchphrase, “Nothing about us without us!”

Naming rights

Manahau: Resilience and Celebration is the name that has been chosen for this newsletter that the Human Rights Commission will publish quarterly.


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Quick quiz on car parks

Nigel Mead makes a presentation to Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon

Nigel Mead makes a presentation to Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon

What’s the best way to ensure mobility car parks are available for those who need them?

  1. Increase fines for illegal use?
  2. Paint mobility parks blue?
  3. Place a “pointed” note under a transgressor’s windscreen wipers?
  4. Challenge transgressors face-to-face?


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Thanks to changes in legislation last year there is no longer any prohibition on someone with a mental illness becoming a school board of trustees’ member, a member of a local authority or Reserve Bank Governor.


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The term “reasonable accommodation” is a major point of debate in the disability sector.


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Disability experts share insights

Gerard Quinn pictured with Commissioner, Robyn Hunt

Gerard Quinn pictured with Commissioner, Robyn Hunt

Two international experts on disability issues Gerard Quinn and Marcia Roux have visited to help the Commission, government agencies and disability organisations get to grips with the implementation of the Convention.


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Widespread media reports four years ago about inadequate care by several disability providers led to a select committee inquiry. Last year the Social Services Select Committee reported back and in February the Government responded to the report’s recommendations.


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Happy birthday to Braille

A code created nearly 200 years ago holds the key to rights for a large number of disabled people.

The 200th anniversary of the birth of the creator of the Braille code, Louis Braille, highlights the vital place Braille holds in ensuring access for blind and low vision people.


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Hamilton project leads the way

Gerri Pomeroy disembarks.

Gerri Pomeroy disembarks.

The Hamilton City Accessible Journey trial has begun to influence national passenger transport standards.


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Resources for mental health consumers

Mental Health Poster artwork by sam RB hanna

Mental Health Poster artwork by sam RB hanna

The Commission always seeks ways to make itself more accessible to people. One of the greatest barriers to accessibility is a lack of awareness and understanding of what the HRC does and how it might be of relevance to particular communities. Recently the Commission has developed some resources about human rights and mental illness.


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Heads up

On very rare occasions we would like to use the subscriber list for Manahau to notify you about upcoming events and items of interest in relation to disability and rights. If you aren’t interested in receiving this supplementary information please advise Sarah Gordon; sarahg@hrc.co.nz.