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Source: Human Rights Commission

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, our Chief Human Rights Commissioner writes the importance of being open to scrutiny as a country, the Race Relations Commissioner calls for compassion in the face of the racial discrimination we’re seeing as a result of coronavirus, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner writes about the state of New Zealand’s working poor and the Disability Rights Commissioner outlines her priorities for 2020.


Scrutiny of NZ’s human rights record is coming here, and we should welcome it

In early February, New Zealand will have a visit from Leilani Farha, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. The visit is being coordinated by the Government. The Special Rapporteur will look at whether New Zealand is upholding its obligation to fulfill the human right to a decent home.The visit from the Special Rapporteur is the first of this type of outside scrutiny New Zealand has experienced for six years. Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner, describes the value of Leilani’s visit in The Spinoff writing; “it’s easy to live in a bubble and think we’re doing well — an immeasurably better way to challenge complacency, and recognise our shortcomings, is to invite outside perspectives. Scrutiny can be uncomfortable, but it helps to keep us real.” Read more here.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon says a coronavirus-themed promotion is insensitive and deplorable

The Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, was one TVNZ’s Breakfast program this week to talk about the coronavirus. Foon spoke out about his disappointment to hear of reports of racial abuse, as a result of the Coronavirus; “We need to stop this rhetoric and be kinder as people are dying. We need to be aware that there’s information from Ministry of Health, and just show compassion towards humanity.” Read more here.

Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo: Action needed to help our nation’s working poor

Before christmas, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Karanina Sumeo, wrote in the New Zealand Herald about the research commissioned by the Human Rights Commission which found more than 50,000 working households live in poverty in Aotearoa; before housing costs. Sumeo wrote that “the research showed Māori, Pasifika, ethnic minorities, the disabled, women, and households with low educational attainment have the worst poverty. Without Working for Families or the accommodation supplement, many families would suffer extreme hardship.” Read more here.

Disability Rights Commissioner’s priorities for 2020

In this video update the Disability Rights Commissioner, Paula Tesoriero talks about the key issues she’ll be focussed on in 2020. Those mentioned in the video are a snapshot of the Commissioners priorities, however, she continues to advocate on many other disability rights issues. Watch here.