Kia ora koutou!
Welcome to the latest Human Rights Commission newsletter Tūrangawaewae – a summary of recent developments on the New Zealand human rights landscape, and the work the Commission is doing for a better, fairer New Zealand.
In this issue, we look at a visit to New Zealand from the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Disability Rights Commissioner seeking answers about potential cuts to disability funding services, calls for a pay transparency body to address the gender pay gap, and potential changes to hate speech laws.
Senior United Nations official visits Christchurch in the wake of the Mosque attacks
A senior United Nations human rights official visited New Zealand at the start of April to show solidarity and learn, at first hand, how communities and the country are responding to the Christchurch Mosque attacks. Kate Gilmore, the United Nations (UN) Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, was the first major UN official to visit New Zealand in relation to the Christchurch mosque shootings. Read more here.
Disability Rights Commissioner seeks answers on whether disabled funding is being quietly cut
Disability Rights Commissioner, Paula Tesoriero, spoke with the New Zealand Herald about why she wants the Ministry of Health to confirm to her that it is not quietly reducing support for disabled people. An investigation by the Herald on Sunday found that the Ministry asked its needs assessors in February to come up with cost savings as it faced a $90m deficit for Disability Support Services. The proposed cost-saving measures included limiting showers and meals, and refusing help for autistic children. Read more here.
‘Poverty is a human rights issue’ — Chief Human Rights Commissioner
Paul Hunt spoke with Laura Walters at Newsroom about the important rights-issues we face in New Zealand and how a focus on human rights can improve the lives of all Kiwis and their communities. He talked about how "for a high-income country there are unacceptable levels of poverty in New Zealand". Read more here.
Hostility directed at certain people or groups not covered in Human Rights Act
Our Chief Legal Advisor, Janet Anderson-Bidois, spoke to Radio New Zealand about potential changes to hate speech provisions in the Human Rights Act. Anderson-Bidois talked about how "we have current [hate speech] laws around in the Human Rights Act, but those laws only cover race, colour, ethnic or national origin. They don't cover hostility directed at people or groups because of the religion and they don't cover sexual orientation or gender or disability." Read more here.
Karanina Sumeo on the need for an independent pay transparency agency
Our Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo, tells her story about being paid $40,000 less than someone who was doing the same job as her, and why it shows we need a pay transparency agency to close the gender pay gap in our latest video. Watch it here.
Special permanent resident visas will help families realise their hopes of New Zealand as a safe place to live
We warmly welcomed the government’s decision to offer non-residents directly affected by the Christchurch terrorist attacks the opportunity to apply for a special permanent resident visa. Our Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says, “In my time on the ground in Christchurch following the attacks, I have met single parents and parentless children who are dealing with the loss of loved ones and who also face grave uncertainty about the future. The government’s decision will help survivors do basic things we all take for granted, such as grocery shopping, weekend sports, visiting the cemetery, or getting to school or a hospital, without needless stress.” Read more here.
Tackling racism, Islamophobia and hate in New Zealand
The Chief Commissioner spoke at Otago University as part of the University’s Give Nothing to Racism campaign. Read his powerful remarks reflecting on the calamity in Christchurch, how we can begin to respond to the events, the responsibilities of internet and social media companies, and issues around hate speech. Read more here.
New research scrutinises New Zealand’s largest pay rise for women
At the end of March we released new research with the New Zealand Work Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) which revealed the challenges and advantages of New Zealand’s largest pay increase for women. Associate Professor Ravenswood described how “this research shows us is this workforce really appreciated the recognition of their work and skills.” She outlined how the research showed “they’d been underpaid and underappreciated for so long. Many had struggled to make ends meet on their low wages. Now they can go to the doctor, have a holiday away from home, and some can even reduce their hours so they can spend time with their own family.” Read more here.
United Nations Indigenous People's Rights Experts visit New Zealand
A group of independent indigenous experts from the United Nations visited New Zealand to assist Government and Iwi to develop a strategy and plan for the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The delegation was comprised of members of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) which provides states with expertise and advice on the rights of Indigenous peoples. These experts met with government and heard directly from Iwi, Māori communities and organisations about how the rights in the Declaration can be put into action in Aotearoa. Read more here.
Human Rights Commissioner speaks out against Tauranga's 'begging ban'
A controversial 'begging ban bylaw' imposed by Tauranga City Council in April was questioned by our Chief Human Rights Commissioner. He told Stuff.co.nz "begging and rough sleeping is a symptom of a larger social problem. It's much better to address the outlying causes of homelessness rather than criminalise it. I'm not convinced another law is needed." Read more here. Read more here.
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