NZ Human Rights Commission - Accessible HTML Document
What is the Human Rights Commission?
New Zealand Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission was created to provide better protection of human rights in New Zealand. It works for a fair, safe and just society, where diversity is valued, human rights are respected, and everyone is able to live free from prejudice and unlawful discrimination.
The Human Rights Commission’s job is to:
- advocate and promote respect for human rights in New Zealand
- encourage harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand
- lead, evaluate, monitor and advise on equal employment opportunities
- provide a human rights enquiries and complaints service.
There are eight Human Rights Commissioners: the Chief Commissioner, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, the Race Relations Commissioner and five part-time Commissioners.
The Director of Human Rights Proceedings heads up an independent office within the Commission, the Office of Human Rights Proceedings – Te Tari Whakatau Take Tika Tangata. The Director decides whether to provide legal representation for people who have complained of breaches of the Human Rights Act. Proceedings are heard in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
The Commissioners and the Director must act independently and are supported by staff in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
What are human rights?
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms all humans are
entitled to. They are expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and through international treaties.
Examples of human rights include freedom of expression, the right to be free from discrimination, the right to participate in culture, the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to education.
Everyone is equally entitled to human rights without discrimination.
- inquires into infringements of human rights
- advocates for human rights
- conducts human rights programmes, activities and education
- reports to the Prime Minister on how New Zealand complies with international human rights standards and legislation
- develops the national Plan of Action for Human Rights
- brings proceedings and intervenes in court on human rights issues.
Human rights enquiries and complaints service
The Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential
service for people with human rights enquiries or complaints of
The Commission also addresses broader human rights issues, for example relating to disability, housing, education, detention, employment and race relations.
The Commission advocates the human rights approach:
- linking of decision-making to human rights standards
- identifying the human rights and responsibilities of everyone affected and, where necessary, prioritising those of the most vulnerable people
- emphasising participation of people in decision-making that affects them
- non-discrimination among individuals and groups through equal enjoyment of rights and responsibilities
- accountability for actions and decisions
- using human rights to empower people to take part and have a voice.
The Commission’s focus
Based on the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights, the Commission has identified six major human rights areas of work and a goal for each one:
The human rights environment
Goal: Human rights are protected and barriers to equality reduced.
Goal: Discrimination and inequalities are eliminated for disabled people.
Goal: Harmonious relations between diverse groups are realised.
Right to work
Goal: Barriers to equal employment opportunities are eliminated.
Human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi
Goal: Improved Crown-tangata whenua relationships strengthen the position of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Goal: New Zealand’s security and sustainable development are strengthened.
Disclaimer: While we have tried to make this information as accurate as possible, it should not be regarded as legal advice.