Our work

Our work

We work across New Zealand to increase human rights standards in law, policy and practice. As New Zealand’s national human rights institution we work for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.


We are working hard to assist the Government, monitor the decisions made to keep people healthy and safe to assess their compliance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights.
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Social inclusion

We all have the right to be treated fairly, with respect and to be free from unwelcome racial discrimination.
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Right to a decent home

Decent housing improves health, education, and work. It provides a sense of safety and belonging. Without a decent home, it is difficult to contribute to society. Because housing is so vital to our mana and wellbeing, it is a human right.
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Economic and social rights

We all have the right to an adequate standard of living so everyone can live a life of dignity and freedom.
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All women have a right to be free from discrimination.
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Disabled people

We provide information and advocacy for disabled people and their families. Learn about human rights as they relate to children and adults with disabilities, and people with mental illness.
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Indigenous rights

We work with tangata whenua to promote the human rights of indigenous people through information, forums and events.
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International reporting

Human rights were first expressed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Countries who sign up to international human rights treaties must include the rights in their own laws.
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Business and Human Rights

Human rights matter to all businesses. We work to protect human rights by providing guidance and advice for businesses.
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Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics

We advocate for the fair treatment of all members of the LGBTQI+ community. Learn about your rights across different domains and how to address discrimination.
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Human Rights Education

Learn about human rights in New Zealand through our learning modules.
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Ill treatment in detention

The Commission is actively working through a range of processes including the Independent Monitoring Mechanism to align New Zealand with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
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Privacy, data and technology

As digital technology continues to become further integrated into our everyday lives at an ever-increasing rate presenting a number of human rights challenges. The Human Rights Commission works on the human rights implications of digital technology, the right to privacy and how data is used.
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The Global Goals

World Leaders have committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. The Global Goals for sustainable development could get these things done. In all countries. For all people.
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Further work

Find more about our work on intelligence and security, human rights and water, human rights education, and human rights and climate change.
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How we work

Under the Human Rights Act 1993 the Human Rights Commission has the following functions to fulfil its responsibilities;

  • Advocate for human rights
  • Encourage and co-ordinate programmes on human rights
  • To make public statements in relation to any matter that may affect or infringe human rights, whether or not those human rights are affirmed in New Zealand domestic human rights law or international human rights law
  • To promote human rights through research, education, and discussion to foster a better understanding of the human rights dimensions of the Treaty of Waitangi and their relationship with domestic and international human rights law
  • To prepare and publish guidelines and voluntary codes of practice for the avoidance of acts or practices that may be inconsistent with, or contrary to, the Human Rights Act
  • To receive and invite representations from members of the public on any matter affecting human rights
  • To consult and cooperate with other people and groups concerned with the protection of human rights
  • To inquire generally into any matter, practice, procedure, the infringement of human rights
  • To appear in or bring proceedings, in accordance with section 6 or section 92B or section 92E or section 92H or section 97 of the Human Rights Act 1993
  • To apply to a court or tribunal, under rules of court or regulations to be appointed as intervener or as counsel assisting the court or tribunal, and to take part in proceedings before the court or tribunal if we see our opinion important in the proceedings
  • To report to the Prime Minister on:
    • Any matter affecting human rights, including the desirability of legislative, administrative, or other action to give better protection to human rights and to ensure better compliance with standards laid down in international instruments on human rights
    • The desirability of New Zealand becoming bound by any international instrument on human rights
  • To report to either or both of the Prime Minister and the Minister responsible on any existing or proposed legislation (including subordinate legislation), administrative provision, or policy of the Government that the Commission considers may affect human rights
  • To promote the development of new international instruments on human rights
  • To promote and monitor compliance by New Zealand with, and the reporting by New Zealand on, the implementation of international instruments on human rights ratified by New Zealand
  • To make public statements in relation to any group of persons in, or who may be coming to, New Zealand who are or may be subject to hostility, or who have been or may be brought into contempt, on the basis that that group consists of persons against whom discrimination is unlawful under the Human Rights Act 1993.
  • To develop a national plan of action, in consultation with interested parties, for the promotion and protection of human rights in New Zealand: