October Tūrangawaewae Newsletter

October Tūrangawaewae Newsletter

October 26, 2018

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.

This issue covers what it will take to get women into leadership, the importance of Pacific culture in New Zealand, the implications of new public service legislation, a new diversity and inclusion programme from Wellington Pheonix Football, our (Acting) Chief Commission at the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions’ and more.


Image of women and men standing around in a boardroom

Time for change

What will it take to see more talented women in leadership roles in this country? The percentage of women in senior roles in the private sector has stalled or dropped in recent years. Is now the time for the Government to impose quotas, targets or temporary special measures to force gender equity on Boards and executive teams in the private sector? The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, along with the Human Rights Commission, Global Women, and the Ministry for Women are hosting a debate on the use of quotas, held in the Beehive at Parliament. Professor Marilyn Waring, Louisa Wall MP, Joan Withers and Anne Tolley MP will debate the issue on 31 October. Click here to RSVP to watch the debate live here at 6.15pm on 31 October.

Image of a 3 boys doing a dance from the pacific

Pacific culture is New Zealand’s culture

In response to concern reflected in the Pasifika community, Acting Chief Commissioner Paula Tesoriero, acknowledged the significant influence of Pasifika people on New Zealand. “The vibrancy of Pasifika people, their language and cultures make a tremendous contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand being an inclusive and super-diverse place,” she wrote. Read more here.

Image of someone giving a presentation is a room on the UPR

United Nations review our human rights record

Once every five years the human rights record of New Zealand is peer-reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which sits in Geneva. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is based on a report from the New Zealand Government, reports on New Zealand from other UN organisations, and submissions from the Human Rights Commission and local NGOs. Before the January 2019 review, the Commission and NGOs will have two opportunities to brief UNHRC members – in Wellington on 26 October and again in Geneva in December. The Wellington ‘UPR pre-session’, will be the first to be held in New Zealand. At this session, more than 30 Wellington-based diplomats will hear directly from representatives of civil society on the human rights situation in New Zealand. Read our submission to the UPR.

Image of Paul Hunt, the new Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Two new commissioners

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the appointment of two new Commissioners, announced at the beginning of October by the Justice Minister, Andrew Little. Professor Paul Hunt, an international human rights lawyer and educator, will join the Commission as Chief Human Rights Commissioner in January. Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo, joins the Commission in November as Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner. Dr Sumeo has been Principal Practice Advisor (Pacific) at Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Children.

Image of a crowd of people walking out of a building in Wellington

New public service legislation

Thirty years after it was enacted, the State Sector Act, the legislation underpinning our public services, is being reviewed and updated. In its submission to the review, the Human Rights Commission has recommended that new public service legislation should reflect, in full, recent developments in human rights law, policy and practice that have taken place since 1988. In particular, the Commission believes that new legislation should contain provisions that establish commitments on the Public Service to comply with, and advance, the State’s domestic and international human rights obligations, actively reflect the full diversity of New Zealand’s population and promote and honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Image of a crowd of people holding Wellington Phoenix Football flags

Wellington Phoenix Programme Launch

On Monday 15 October the Human Rights Commission Race Relations team coordinated the launch of the Wellington Phoenix Football Diversity and Inclusion programme at Civic Square in Wellington. The programme provides complimentary season passes and free train transport and wifi on game day for Wellington Phoenix’s 2018/19 home games at Westpac Stadium. This offer is to around 900 newcomers to the region including our former refugee communities. It focuses on promoting wellbeing outcomes for young people and their families including those who may not be able to afford or have an opportunity to attend football games. The programme fosters inclusivity by using sport as a vehicle to help our diverse communities positively engage with one another. The Football Diversity and Inclusion Programme is an initiative between Wellington Phoenix, the Human Rights Commission, New Zealand Red Cross, Changemakers Refugee Forum, Multicultural NZ, Volunteer Wellington, Oranga Tamariki, Porirua City Council, Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council.

Image of a painting of the sign of the Treaty of Waitangi

Pre-cursor to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

On 28 October 1835 in Waitangi, Bay of Islands, 34 rangatira signed He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand). The Declaration is one of the three constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand – He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the suffrage petition. Partly motivated by French intentions to claim an independent state in Hokianga, the 34 northern chiefs signed the declaration to safeguard their iwi in the face of rapid change, strengthen their alliance with Great Britain and assert their authority and sovereign power to the wider world. It was subsequently signed by another 18 chiefs. While some officials at the time and some historians today view He Whakaputanga as a regional agreement lacking national significance, others see it as a basis for Māori claims to self-determination and a pre-cursor to signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Today, the country continues to grapple with the issues of self-determination, honouring and perfecting the Treaty partnership and constitutional recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Image of Dr Jackie Blue

Quotas promote equality

Writing in the New Zealand Herald, outgoing Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue argued that the time has arrived for temporary special measures or quotas to address the inequalities of women in the labour market and on Boards. She says the progress of women reaching senior leadership roles in the private sector is abysmal as the number of senior female leaders has declined in the past two years. Dr Blue says it is time for the private sector to step up and address the issue or risk Government regulation for quotas. Read Dr Jackie Blue's op-ed here.

Image of Paula Tesoriero at GANHRI on a panel

International focus on disability rights

Earlier this month, Acting Chief Commissioner Paula Tesoriero attended the global conference for human rights institutions in Morocco. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions’ (GANHRI) conference focused on enabling civil society to actively protect and promote human rights and the role of human rights activists, particularly women. More than 260 national human rights institutes were represented at the event. The Commission was also pleased to see the formation of a working group on disability. This work was led by the Commission with the aim of increasing the visibility of disability rights internationally and in New Zealand, and enhancing the work of national human rights institutes in protecting and promoting the rights of disabled people.