NZ National Commission for UNESCO

The National Commission is the UNESCO presence in New Zealand. It actively participates in UNESCO’s programmes, developing partnerships, while influencing and empowering people in NZ, the Pacific and Asia.

The role of the National Commission is to:

  • Constitute the main channel of co-operation between UNESCO and NZ
  • Manage NZ’s relationship with UNESCO
  • Advise the NZ Government on UNESCO matters
  • Contribute to UNESCO’s development of its policies and programmes
  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practice between NZ and other Member States
  • Implement activities on behalf of UNESCO in NZ and the South Pacific.

UNESCO internationally has a particular focus on cultural diversity and in 2005 adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. NZ acceded to this Convention in 2007.

The NZ National Commission is involved in a wide range of activities that support the NZ Diversity Action Programme, including the production of educational resources, values education, a Pacific strategy, interfaith and sustainable development programmes. It was one of the founding participants of the programme in 2004, and maintains a close working relationship with the Human Rights Commission on diversity issues.

Visit the website of the NZ National Commission for UNESCO.

Projects 2012
United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January

In 2005 the UN designated 27 January – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp –  as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. In designating the day, the UN urged member states to develop educational programmes to instil the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again. The National Commission will support the marking of the day, as in previous years, with a memorial service at Wellington’s  Makara cemetery and a formal ceremony at Parliament,  in conjunction with the New Zealand Holocaust Research and Education Centre and other stakeholders.

Young People of Faith Workshop

The National Commission will work with the Victoria University Religious Studies Programme and the Human Rights Commission to bring together a group of young people with affiliations to religious communities to start a conversation and foster discussion and debate about their experiences of media, local national, and community. The workshop will take place in Auckland on 12 February. 

UNESCO International Mother Language Day, 21 February

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999. It has been celebrated since 2000 to promote all the languages of the world. In NZ, Mother Language Day is an opportunity to promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism and celebrate the hundreds of community languages spoken here. The National Commission supports the Community Language Association of NZ (CLANZ), which coordinates Mother Language Day initiatives.

Maori and Pacific Languages Weeks

The National Commission will support Maori Language Week 23-27 July, Samoan Language Week, 27 May-2 June, and other Pacific Language Weeks that are planned to be held during the year in association with the Maori Language Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs,  and the various Pacific education, media  and community organisations.  The National Commission will also continue to support the development and implementation of a Pacific Languages Strategy.

New Zealand Diversity Forum

Since the inception of the NZ Diversity Forum in 2004, the National Commission has taken a lead role in ensuring youth participation at the Forum. It has helped to organise and support the annual youth forum held in conjunction with the Diversity Forum. The National Commission sees reaching and energising youth in the area of diversity as a significant part of its role, and will continue this activity in 2012. The 2012 Diversity Forum will be held in Auckland on 19-20 August.

Samoa 2012

Samoa and New Zealand will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Samoan Independence and the Treaty of Friendship in 2012, and the National Commission will support one or more projects that reflect the international priorities of UNESCO in relation to Samoa, New Zealand and the Samoan community in New Zealand.

Contact : Susan Isaacs,

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