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Human Rights Commission Welcomes New Commissioners

Media Advisory

16 May 2001

Human Rights Commission Welcomes New Commissioners

Five new Human Rights Commissioners will be formally welcomed to their positions with a powhiri at Orakei marae, in Auckland, tomorrow.

“The arrival of the new Commissioners marks a new era for the Human Rights Commission as they head into the period of change earmarked by the government’s review into the human rights framework of New Zealand,” said Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan.

The Chief Commissioner said that a powhiri will take place to introduce her, Warren Lindberg, Ella Henry and Michael Powles to Commission staff, Tangata Whenua and human rights activists.

Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin, who is also a Human Rights Commissioner, will join the new Commissioners at the powhiri. Chris Lawrence (Proceedings Commissioner) and Bruce Slane (Privacy Commissioner) will also be present.

“This welcome will introduce the community to the new human rights leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said the Chief Commissioner.

Background information: Profiles of the new Commissioners

Ms Rosslyn Noonan has been a Human Rights Coordinator with Education International since 1996 and was formerly the National Secretary for the NZ Educational Institute and on the National Executive of the NZ Council of Trade Unions. She has broad experience working in the areas of conflict resolution, race, ethnic and religious relations in multicultural societies, gender equality and also possesses strong organisational management skills. These qualities will be particularly important for an incoming new Chief Commissioner in view of the changes that are likely to be made to the structure of the Human Rights Commission.

Ms Ella Henry is a lecturer in management studies and the Research Director of the Mäori research unit at Auckland University. She was Executive Director Greenpeace New Zealand (Inc) between 1994-1996. Ms Henry is of Ngati Kuri, Ngati Rehia no Kahu, and Te Rarawa descent. She is completing a PhD.

Mr Warren Lindberg MNZM is the Manager, Project to Counter Stigma and

Discrimination Associated with Mental Illness at the Ministry of Health. From 1986 until 1998 he was the Executive Director of the NZ AIDS Foundation. He holds a Master of Philosophy degree, a Certificate in Community Studies and a Diploma in Teaching. He has been involved in many voluntary community organisations and is currently a Trustee for the Auckland Drug Information Outreach and holds the chair of Nga Moemoea a te Rangatahi Trust, an educational theatre group for Maori youth at risk.

Mr Michael Powles was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations from 1996 to 2000. His previous experience in international relations is extensive, having served as New Zealand's Ambassador to China and Indonesia, and as High Commissioner to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu, while resident in Suva. He is also a former Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for the South Pacific, North Asia, the United Nations, the Middle East and Africa. Mr Powles holds a Masters of Law from Victoria University.

Mr Gregory Fortuin, Race Relations Conciliator, has been Managing Director of AXA Corporate Superannuation Services New Zealand from 1991. From 1987 to 1991 he was Corporate Business Services Manager with NML in Australia, and from 1974 to 1986 he worked in senior management positions with NML and Norwich Union in South Africa. He was appointed by Nelson Mandela to be the first resident South African representative in New Zealand (Honorary Consul) since 1984. He is the Chairman of the Youth Suicide Awareness Trust and serves on the Board of New Zealand Post and Industry New Zealand. He is married to Joy and has 4 daughters, Carmen (26), Olivia (23), Sarsha (23), Melody (20) and a son Jonathan (11).

ENDS

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