Human Rights Commission steps to manage effect of COVID-19

Human Rights Commission steps to manage effect of COVID-19

March 20, 2020

The Human Rights Commission is taking steps to ensure we avoid contributing to any potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

While there has been no community transmission of the virus in New Zealand, to date, we believe that given the large number of people we are in contact with as a part of our work we need to be cautious.

The commission is committed to remaining connected with and articulating the legitimate concerns of our stakeholders, especially the most disadvantaged, including those living in poverty. This work will continue even though the commission staff and commissioners may not organise or attend as many community events as they would like.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights key to decision-making

The Government has a range of powers available when dealing with emergency situations such as the current pandemic. The commission is ready to help the Government ensure its response to COVID-19 is fair, effective and proportionate, and benefits from the constructive insights provided by New Zealand’s national and international human rights commitments.

We are facing an unprecedented situation and it is vital Te Tiriti o Waitangi and fundamental human rights are at the forefront when decisions are made.   

Māori, as Tiriti-partners, need to be part of decision-making and able to exercise self-determination and lead solutions.  There are already examples of iwi and Māori communities preparing and developing responses, to issues that affect their communities, that draw on tikanga and mātauranga Māori.

Anxiety and fear about COVID-19 should never be a reason to discriminate against people based on their race, ethnicity or national origin or because of the status of their health. We ask all people in New Zealand to be kind, responsible and exercise common sense for the good of all. 

Follow the advice of on the Covid-19 website or contact the Healthline team on 0800 358 5453, which is free and available 24/7.

Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against can complain to the Human Rights Commission by calling our confidential service on 0800 496 877 or emailing [email protected] People can also complain by submitting an online form on our website. We can offer mediation to help resolve the complaint.