December Newsletter

December Newsletter

December 20, 2019

Kia ora koutou!

Welcome to the last Human Rights Commission newsletter Tūrangawaewae of the year.

Thank you for your support for our work. Happy holidays from the team at the Human Rights Commission. Kia tau te rangimārie kei runga i a tātou katoa Have a fun, safe festive season – may love and kindness be with you all.

We will be closed from the 21st of December to the 5th of January.


Photo of Paul Hunt

Resource on hate speech legal framework published

This week we published a resource providing an overview of the legal framework on hate speech. 'Kōrero Whakamauāhara: Hate Speech' includes definitions of hate speech and considers different legal approaches in New Zealand and around the world. It is intended as a resource to help New Zealanders have an informed, inclusive and respectful discussion about the complex and contentious issue of hate speech, as well as provide an accessible introduction to the subject in national and international law. In the resource foreward, Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt explains that Aotearoa’s response to the Christchurch mosque massacres on March 15 will be complex and multifaceted. This resource addresses just one corner of this large canvas, ie hate speech (also known as harmful speech). Read more here.

Latest annual report published

New Zealand has one of the highest bullying rates in the world. Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner, is calling on schools to adopt "evidence-based programmes" such as the Finnish project called KiVa. The KiVa program now runs in 51 NZ schools and claims to have reduced bullying by 42 per cent in schools where it has run for three years. Foon said, "Racism happens at school, and as Race Relations Commissioner [I believe] we need to start at school." Read more here.

Paul Hunt: The best kept secret in New Zealand - a decent home is your right

For Human Rights Day, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner wrote about how New Zealand’s housing crisis is also a human rights crisis and why our kept secret is that a decent home is your right. The crisis encompasses homeownership, market renting, state housing and homelessness, as well as the punishing impact of substandard housing, especially on the disadvantaged, such as disabled people. Read more here.

Hate crime: A fifth of offending in New Zealand is linked to discrimination

A new report published by the Ministry of Justice estimates that about 20 percent of crimes committed in New Zealand could potentially be classed as hate crimes. The report is based on the results of the New Zealand Crime and Victim's Survey of 8000 people. The results show a clear need for more data collection on hate crimes in New Zealand. For years, we have called for improvements to how hate crime data is collected. Janet Anderson-Bidois, our Chief Legal Advisor, explains; "Better data can provide information about who is being targeted, where offences are happening, who the perpetrators are and the types of hate crimes that are occurring. This sort of information can assist in designing effective measures to counter hate motivated crime and prevent it from happening as well as identifying ways to support those who are the victims of these offences." Read more here.

Disabled people’s creativity can help tackle social problems

On the 3rd of December, it was International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The 2019 theme is ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’. Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says disabled people are problem-solvers and can bring creativity to tackling societal problems. Read more here.

Religious Diversity Statement Christchurch launch

Earlier this month Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt and Race Relations Meng Foon hosted and spoke at the Christchurch launch of the Religious Diversity Statement. With grateful thanks to Christchurch City Council, we were able to use the beautiful Tūranga Tautoru venue room which looks onto the Christchurch Cathedral in the square. The event was well attended by a variety of leaders from religious and civil society, who all supported the importance of recognising shared religious values, while being free to maintain one’s individual beliefs. Read the Religious Diversity Statement here.