The enormous challenges of Covid including social exclusion

The enormous challenges of Covid including social exclusion

December 16, 2021

By Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Covid 19 is hurting many people.

It’s hurting those who, like me, got sick.

It’s hurting those who end up in hospital.

It’s hurting the families who have lost their loved ones.

It’s hurting those who have lost their jobs.

It’s hurting people by stoking fear and anxiety. 

It’s hurting those living with mental distress, those living on the edge.

It’s hurting those whose education has suffered.

It’s hurting those who are excluded from important public spaces.

Statistics tell us it’s especially hurting tangata whenua and Pacific people.

Faced with all this, many people are confused and angry.  

But we mustn’t take it out on our family, the shop worker, the bus driver, the health professional.

We mustn’t take it out on the vaccinated or unvaccinated, whether we agree with them or not, each has their own history, fears, and reasons.

In our hurt, we mustn’t be racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, threatening or violent.

I regret any legislation passing through Parliament under urgency.

I regret people being excluded from vital parts of society.

Millions of New Zealanders have worked extremely hard to eliminate and suppress Covid 19.

Now we must all work hard to eliminate avoidable social exclusion.

I urge you to call for human rights - all human rights - the rights to healthcare, health protection, work, association, and assembly - in this country and beyond.

I urge you to support fair and reasonable balances between competing rights.

I urge you to honour your responsibilities to your whānau, neighbours, society and country. 

We are all human beings and, as human beings, we all swim - or sink - together.