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Human rights and freedoms

All New Zealanders are entitled to basic human rights and freedoms to protect them from unlawful discrimination. Find out about your rights, and how to get help or make a complaint.

If you are concerned about human rights issues during COVID-19, visit the NZ Human Rights Commission website.

Basic rights and freedoms

The Human Rights Act 1993 protects people in New Zealand from unlawful discrimination.

The NZ Human Rights Commission’s website offers more information, including:

What is unlawful discrimination?

Unlawful discrimination is when you’re treated unfairly or less favourably than another person because of your:

  • age
  • colour
  • race
  • disability, includes illness
  • employment status
  • ethical belief
  • ethnic or national origin
  • family status
  • marital status
  • political opinion
  • religious belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

Human Rights Act 1993 — New Zealand Legislation

New Zealand and international law

NZ has signed up to several international human rights covenants, conventions and protocols.

Find out more on the NZ Human Rights Commission website:

Children and young people’s rights 

Children and young people’s rights cover things like:

  • what children should and should not be allowed to do
  • how children should be treated
  • how they should be protected.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner provides more information.

Rights — Office of the Children’s Commissioner 

Rights of persons with disabilities

The Office for Disability Issues website provides the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in these formats:

  • Easy read
  • spoken English
  • braille
  • NZ Sign Language (NZSL).

Read the Convention — Office for Disability Issues

How to make or resolve a complaint

If you have experienced unlawful discrimination, you can contact the NZ Human Rights Commission.

Complain about discrimination

Human rights tools and guidance

The Resources section on the NZ Human Rights Commission website has guidance, including in NZ Sign Language, on topics such as:

  • racial harassment and how to get help
  • human rights in relation to COVID-19
  • guides for employers and employees.

Resources — NZ Human Rights Commission

Utility links and page information

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