Paula's Pānui - December 2018

Paula's Pānui - December 2018

December 21, 2018

This has been such a busy year and just like the end of a year, anniversaries also often prompt reflection. The 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December was a useful moment to look at what we have achieved in terms of human rights – and what more we need to do.

I have had the pleasure of working with many of you on ensuring that disability rights receive the same attention as all other human rights. We have a long way to go, but I want to thank everyone for their work in pushing for change in New Zealand and wish you a happy and relaxing holiday time.

Some of the highlights of my work this year include:

  • The work of the International Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (including meetings with Ministers and Chief Executives to advance key priorities)
  • Contributing to the Education Reforms
  • Raising key issues facing disabled people with a number of the current reviews underway by Government
  • Making submissions on Bills, such as the End of Life Choice Bill
  • Commissioning research into attitudes towards disability and disabled people
  • Highlighting disability issues on the world stage
  • Briefing new Ministers and agencies on key disability concerns
  • Advocating for fairer legislation, for example Funded Family Care
  • Working with Stats NZ and the Office of Disability Issues to develop a set of indicators and measures to track progress under the NZ Disability Strategy

To get updates as they happen, you can also follow me on Twitter (@PaulaTesoriero) and Facebook (PaulaTesorieroHRC).


Image says: '70 years of Universal Declaration of Human Rights #StandUp4HumanRights

Human Rights declaration as relevant as ever

Last week, I presented a report on the status of human rights in New Zealand to representatives of United Nations (UN) member states in Geneva. This is part of the third five-yearly review by the UN of our human rights record–known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). I looked at how well we have lived up to the ideals we signed up to 70 years ago. 

Read more about the presentation at the United Nations here. Read more about the 70th anniversary in my op-ed for the New Zealand Herald here.

Having a Voice: A conversation with Robert Martin

Monday 3 December was the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities - a day to focus on the full and equal participation of disabled people. To celebrate, I sat down with Robert Martin MNZM to talk about his position on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Watch the video here

Picture of an amplifier

Our Voice: Loud and Proud

The Human Rights Commission hosted a workshop in November exploring how we can enhance and accelerate positive impacts for disabled people. The wisdom and passion of those who attended generated great insights. We reviewed the past to better understand the conditions that led to successful change. This is just the first of many conversations, and one that will continue to evolve and grow and which you will have the opportunity to be a part of. I will let you know via email and social media how to participate.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero talks at a Suffrage125 event

Recent reports

Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce: Our schooling futures: Stronger Together Report

The report was released on 7 December and outlines what is needed to create an innovative, flexible and focused education system. I encourage New Zealanders to engage in the report and its recommendations and to feel confident that these reforms deliver the systemic change needed.

To read the report and find out more about making a submission click here.

Accessibility work programme to begin early next year

The accessibility work programme is an important step in ensuring a more inclusive, accessible Aotearoa New Zealand. The programme will be co-designed with the disability community and businesses. Read the Cabinet Paper here.

He Ara Oranga – Report of the Government inquiry into mental health and addiction 

This report was released earlier this month with a number of recommendations. It is important that the Government response – expected in March 2019 - ensures that changes are co-designed by those the system is intended to serve, informed by a human rights approach, and fully reflects the Treaty and the role of Māori as tangata whenua.

This means prioritising the meaningful involvement of all people with unmet needs, particularly Māori, Pacific peoples, disabled people, Rainbow communities, the prison population, and refugees and migrants. You can read the full report here.


Over the last couple of months, I:  

  • attended the YES Disability Resource Centre – 15th Anniversary AGM;  
  • spoke with the Youth Alliance of the Cerebral Palsy Society about the code of freedoms they have developed; 
  • attended and spoke at the opening of the Halberg Games as the Halberg Games Sport Ambassador;
  • represented the Human Rights Commission at GANHRI in Morocco 8th – 13th October. I moderated a session on Human Rights Defenders and presented the Terms of Reference and draft action plan for a proposed GANHRI working group on disability;
  • continued to engage with the Education for All network;  
  • met with Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni for our bi-monthly meeting; 
  • hosted the Employment Design Day with the Office for Disability Issues and Disabled Persons Organisations;    
  • gave a keynote to the Alzheimer's Conference on the theme of Supported Decision Making;
  • opened the Universal Periodic Review in-country pre-session and spoke about our recent submission. Read the submission here 
  • met with the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Delegation going to the UPR session in Geneva;
  • chaired a panel on Inclusive Education at the Inclusive NZ Conference and delivered a keynote presentation entitled: Citizenship, Belonging and Employment: A Human Rights Approach; 
  • attended the Workbridge AGM; 
  • hosted a meeting with a South Korean human rights delegation to discuss discrimination complaints we receive at the Commission and New Zealand’s human rights record; 
  • opened the Suffrage 125 Debate: Quotas for women in leadership; 
  • spoke at the HELP AGM in a panel discussion on the #MeToo movement;  
  • participated in Crip Lit: The Great Debate arguing that ‘There is such a thing as a disabled writer’;
  • interviewed Robert Martin about his recent experience at the United Nations. Watch the video here
  • met with acting associate Minister of Health, Hon James Shaw;
  • attended the People First AGM;
  • chaired the International Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities quarterly meeting;
  • spoke at Celebrate Women, a Suffrage 125 event at the National Library;
  • was interviewed by Louisa Wall and Zoe George for the RNZ Fair Play podcast about accessible toilets at sporting grounds;  
  • as part of Disability Pride and Experience weeks, I hosted “Our Voices Loud and Proud” to enhance and accelerate positive impact for disabled people;
  • contributed opening remarks at the Disability Pride Week: Claiming Our Place hui;  
  • attended the annual Attitude Awards and presented the Emerging Athlete award; 
  • spoke at Manaaki Ability Trust's Outrageous Hat Day;
  • attended the Minister's Leadership Group on Disability Issues, as part of the IMM delegation;
  • attended CCS Disability Action's AGM; and, 
  • presented at the United Nations in Geneva about human rights issues in New Zealand and what needs to change.

Inclusive education produces better outcomes for all

Fair Play podcast - Basin's lack of facilities for disabled women "unacceptable"

New Zealand needs to take a human-rights based approach

Human Rights Declaration as relevant as ever

Transformational change needed to reform our education system

New Accessibility Work Programme important step in breaking down barriers

Having a voice: A conversation with Robert Martin

NGOs brief diplomats on human rights challenges in New Zealand