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 the Disability Rights Commissioner taking up the role as Chef De Mission for the Paralympics next year, calls for an anti-bullying programme to be rolled out nationwide, why New Zealand needs a national inclusivity policy, and much more.
Disability Rights Commissioner announced as Chef De Mission
Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero has been appointed the new Chef de Mission for the New Zealand team heading to the Tokyo Summer Paralympics in August 2020. The appointment is a great credit to Paula’s achievements as a disability rights advocate and as a gold-medallist Paralympian cyclist, and the high regard in which she is widely held as a leader. Paula will undertake this role while continuing to serve full time as Disability Rights Commissioner. The Chef de Mission role will mostly involve heading planning meetings, fronting publicity, and motivating the Paralympic team, as well as attending the two-week Games. Read more here.
Race Relations Commissioner calls for anti-bullying programme to be rolled out across New Zealand
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.
New Zealand needs a national inclusivity policy says the Chief Human Rights Commissioner
Today, there is more recognition than ever before that Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and racism exist in New Zealand. As a multicultural society, based on Te Tiriti, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner writes in The Press that "we can tackle and defeat these and other forms of hate, but we will only succeed if we take collective action. We need central and local government to work together to develop a national inclusivity policy in partnership with communities. This requires resourcing and supporting communities to be involved from the outset." Read more here.
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner speaks about migrant exploitation
Our Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Karanina Sumeo, spoke in Rotorua about why initiatives targeted at reducing the risk of migrant exploitation are absolutely necessary. She said that "this is talent we could benefit from ... If we're not accessing it, they'll leave and we'll be poorer for it." Read more here.
Government should implement a public holiday to acknowledge Land Wars
Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon spoke with Regan Paranihi from Te Ao Māori calling on the Government to implement a paid day of commemorations to acknowledge the New Zealand Land Wars. He says there needs to be a set day where New Zealanders can commemorate one of the darkest decades in the country’s history. Read more here.
Government scraps the "racist" family link refugee policy
The Government announced earlier this month that they will scrap the Africa and Middle East "family-link" refugee policy, labelled discriminatory and racist by the Race Relations Commissioner. In response to the announcement, Foon said; “I am excited and relieved about the changes announced today. Soon after commencing my role, I raised my concerns with the Minister that this policy was unfair, discriminatory and racist. It was totally unacceptable that this policy singled out African and Middle Eastern refugees, treating them unfairly in comparison to other refugees. No one chooses to be a refugee." Read more here.
Auckland university staff denounce racism and white supremacy on campus
"Given the nature of this place – and any university worthy of the name – no one person can truly speak on behalf of us all. However, the signatories of this letter declare that racism and white supremacy have no place at the University of Auckland," wrote over 200 University of Auckland Staff at the start of this month after a new wave of posters and stickers promoting a recently-launched white nationalist group have been spotted. Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, told RNZ's Checkpoint the group's posters were pathetic nonsense. Read more here.