Human Rights Commission

Human Rights Commission

The primary functions of the Human Rights Commission are to advocate and promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights in NZ society, to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in NZ society, to promote equal employment opportunities and to provide a disputes resolutions service in relation to complaints of discrimination. The Commission’s work on race relations is led by the The Race Relations Commissioner.

Visit the Human Rights Commission website.

Projects 2011
New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights

The Commission completed its second review of Human Rights in New Zealand in December 2010. During 2011 it will engage with government and the community to develop an action plan for 2011-2015 to address the priority areas identified in the review. The review includes chapters on the Treaty and Human Rights, race relations, refugees, religion and migrant workers.

United Nations Review of NZ’s Race Relations Performance

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is due to conduct its five yearly review of New Zealand’s race relations performance in 2012. The Government is required to submit its report to the Committee by the end of 2011, and the Commission will be encouraging and facilitating in community input into the Government report. In addition, civil society organisations will be encouraged to report directly to the Committee on their assessment of New Zealand’s performance and issues they consider need to be addressed.

Equality at Work framework

The Commission will publish and promote a new Equality at Work Framework: 2010 and Beyond. It will address the equal opportunities priorities and recommendations for policy, practice and legislation identified in the regional reports of the Commission’s National Conversation about Work, conducted in 2009-2010.

Taku Manawa ki Kirikiriroa

As part of its Taku Manawa programme, The Commission will undertake a human rights community development programme in the Waikato region for tangata whenua and ethnic and religious minorities. The participants will attend a formal course provided in partnership with the Waikato Institute of Technology, leading to the achievement of Adult Education Standard US 19444. The course will be delivered in February-March and the Commission will support participants as they undertake human rights advocacy and implementation in their communities on completion of the course.

Policy and Advocacy

The Commission will seek to advance key Race relations priorities through policy development and advocacy. Issues identified for 2011 include the representation of Maori, Pacific and other ethnic minority communities in local government, discrimination against Asian New Zealanders, safety of international students, and structural discrimination.

Facilitation of the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme

The Commission facilitates the NZ Diversity Action Programme. The Commission aims to maintain the number of annual participating organisations at 250 in 2011 through renewal or replacement of 2010 participants. The number of projects contributed by participants is expected to exceed 600.

New Zealand Diversity Action Programme Networks

The Commission will produce monthly electronic newsletters for the religious diversity, national language policy, refugee issues and media and diversityYoudiversity You can view and subscribe to these newsletters online. Forums for each of the networks will be held as part of the annual New Zealand Diversity Forum.

New Zealand Diversity Forum

The seventh NZ Diversity Forum will be held in Hamilton on 21-22 August 2011. It will be organised in conjunction with a range of other NZ Diversity Action Programme partners, and will include a national youth forum. There will be community forums and events on the weekend, and professional group and specific topic forums on Monday, 22 August. A reception and the national diversity awards will also be held on the Monday.

Race Relations Day

Race Relations Day marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is usually marked on March 21, which falls on a Monday in 2011. The Commission coordinates and supports activities undertaken on the day and in the weeks leading up to it by communities, local government, schools and other education institutions, businesses and workplaces. Many community events will take place on the weekends of 19-20 March and 26-27 March, with school activities taking place from 21-25 March. The 2011 theme is “People in Harmony”.

Te Mana i Waitangi: Human Rights and the Treaty of Waitangi

One of the functions of the Commission under the Human Rights Act is to promote understanding of the human rights dimensions of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Commission’s Te Mana i Waitangi project seeks to do this by promoting discussion on human rights and the Treaty, promoting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and working with Māori communities to build human rights capacity and leadership (Tuhonohono). In 2011 the Tuhonohono projects will involve the Commission working with five specific groups in Taitokerau, Wairoa, Tuwharetoa, Taranaki and Te Waipounamu. The Commission will publish a review of Treaty developments in the past year and its review of human rights and the Treaty in time for Waitangi Day 2011. It also expects to make a contribution to the proposed constitutional review. Following the publication in 2010 of its report on Māori Representation in Local Government: the Continuing Challenge, the Commission will advocate for local government to consider establishing Māori seats and reviewing the mechanisms it has to provide for Māori participation. The Commission publishes a monthly electronic newsletter on human rights and the Treaty, Whitiwhiti Kōrero.

Māori Language Week

Māori Language Week will be held in the last week from 25-31 July 2011. The promotion of community activities for Māori Language Week is a joint project between the Māori Language Commission, the Human Rights Commission and Te Puni Kokiri. The theme for 2011 is Manaaki Tangata, as a lead-in to the Rugby World Cup.

Samoan Language Week

Samoan Language Week will be held from 30 May to 3 June. The promotion of community activities for Samoan Language Week is a joint project between the Association of Samoan Language Teachers (FAGASA), the Human Rights Commission, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and other partner organisations.

Annual Review of Race Relations

The Commission will publish its annual review of race relations in March 2011. The review will include an overview of race relations as well as specific reviews in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi, action on diversity, migrants and refugees, language, media, religious diversity, arts culture and heritage, civil and political rights, discrimination, economic and social rights and diversity research. It will also identify challenges for the future. Past issues are available online.

Acknowledging Positive Contributions to Race Relations

Every month the Commission awards certificates of acknowledgement to individuals and groups who have made a positive contribution to race relations. The awards are published in a monthly e-newsletter, On the Bright Side, which is sent out to a wide audience. You can subscribe to the newsletter online or by emailing to . The Commission also presents annual awards for outstanding contributions to race relations at the annual Diversity Forum in August.

Guidelines on Religious Diversity

The Commission is working with the Victoria University Religious Studies Programme to develop guidelines for employers and workers on issues relating to religious diversity in the workplace. The project arose from the annual religious diversity forum at the 2009 Diversity Forum. The guidelines will be published in 2011. Following the religious diversity forum at the 2010 Diversity Forum, the Commission is also working with the Victoria University Religious Studies Programme on a statement on religion and the media.

Statement on Race Relations

The Commission will promote further discussion and use of the Statement on Race Relations, which was launched at the New Zealand Diversity Forum in August 2008.

Statement on Religious Diversity

The Commission will promote further discussion and use of the Statement on Religious Diversity, which was relaunched with some minor changes and a new introduction by Prime Minister John Key at the New Zealand Diversity Forum in August 2009.

Statement on Language Policy

The Commission will facilitate further discussion on the Statement on Language Policy launched in 2007. The policy calls for the development of a range of strategies for particular aspects of language policy, and the Commission will be encouraging appropriate lead organisations to develop such strategies. A particular focus in 2011 will be on encouraging the development of strategies for Pacific languages and interpreting and translation services.

Durban Network of National Human Rights Institutions

The Commission will facilitate the development of the Durban Network of National Human Rights Institutions to share good practice in implementing the Durban Programme of Action to Combat Racism and the outcomes of the Durban Review Conference in Geneva in 2009.

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