Our work

Disabled people

Disabled people have the right to be treated fairly, with respect and to be free from ableism. We undertake a number of projects, as the Human Rights Commission, to remove barriers for disabled people.

Disabled people have the right to be respected for who they are and to participate fully in all aspects of society. We work in partnership with others to help individuals and organisations around New Zealand to understand their rights and meet their legal responsibilities. We do this by working with government, business, community partners, education providers, the media and workplaces.

Current Projects

Independent Monitoring Mechanism on the Disability Convention

Independent Monitoring Mechanism on the Disability Convention

To help monitor the implementation of the Disability Convention, an independent mechanism has been set up.

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Social Change Campaign to Improve Attitudes to Disability

Social Change Campaign to Improve Attitudes to Disability

Disabled people experience poorer outcomes in social and economic indicators due to “ableist” thinking and negative attitudes about disability that affect social norms, policies and systems.

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An Inclusive Model for our Education System

An Inclusive Model for our Education System

Despite some positive initiatives, the education reforms have not yet delivered a comprehensive roadmap of systems changes in order to realise ‘world class inclusive public education’ so that every child thrives at school.

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Addressing Violence and Abuse against Disabled People

Addressing Violence and Abuse against Disabled People

The Disability Rights Commissioner is advocating for greater visibility and understanding of these serious human rights issues and more importantly a closing of the gaps in prevention or early intervention responses.

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Latest News

Meet the Commissioner responsible

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero MNZM

Paula Tesoriero MNZM is a world-champion athlete and a former senior public service manager, who is currently serving as the Disability Rights Commissioner. A role within the Human Rights Commission, the Disability Rights Commissioner works to promote and protect the rights of disabled New Zealanders. Paula is a governance expert having served on several boards including the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, New Zealand Artificial Limb Service, Sport Wellington and Paralympics New Zealand. She is also a member of the New Zealand Sports Tribunal. A law graduate from Victoria University, Paula has worked in private practice and as a General Manager at Statistics NZ and the Ministry of Justice. Winning gold in a world-record breaking time at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008, in the women’s 500m time trial, and two bronze medals, her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009. She retired as an athlete in 2010. Paula says her role as the Disability Rights Commissioner enables her to make a meaningful contribution to changing the outcomes for disabled New Zealanders, who make up nearly a quarter of our population. Paula is also serving as Chef de Mission for the New Zealand heading to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Past projects

Inquiry into the use and promotion of New Zealand Sign Language in 2013

An inquiry into the use and promotion of New Zealand Sign Language as an official language of New Zealand was carried out in 2013.
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Discussion on the barriers to a fully inclusive society in 2012

The Commission, in consultation with the community, has identified three key areas where disabled people continue to face barriers: the built environment; the accessing of information and political participation in 2012
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Report on Disabled Children's Right to Education in 2009

The Disabled Children’s Right to Education report was prepared by the Commission in response to complaints and issues raised with the Commission in 2009.
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Guidelines on Insurance and the Human Rights Act in 2007

Korowai Whaimana Programme in 2007

Korowai Whaimana was an education initiative created in partnership between the Like Minds Like Mine programme, the Human Rights Commission, and people with experience of mental illness
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Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport in 2005

The report was released on 26 October 2005. The decision to hold an Inquiry was prompted by the experiences of disabled people who came to the Commission seeking enforcement of their right not to be discriminated against in the provision of public transport.
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Guidelines on Health Insurance Premiums and the Human Rights Act in 2003

Complying with human rights law has just got easier for health insurers with the release of a new Human Rights Commission publication.
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