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Human Rights Commission Welcomes New Commissioners

18/04/02

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan is enthusiastic about the appointment of a new group of Human Rights Commissioners.

“On behalf of the Commission, I want to convey a warm welcome to the three new Commissioners - Joy Liddicoat, Robyn Hunt and Dr Merimeri Penfold - whose warrants begin today.”

“I also want to congratulate current Commissioners Warren Lindberg and Michael Powles who have been reappointed for another five years”.

Ms Noonan also welcomed the appointment of a new Director of Human Rights Proceedings and a new Chair for the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Although two further Commissioner appointments - Race Relations and Equal Employment Opportunities - are yet to be made, Ms Noonan said that today’s appointments are an important step towards responding to the challenges contained in the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001.

“Recent incidents of violence illustrate the fact that New Zealand faces complex and deep-rooted problems that affect ordinary people everyday: the challenge facing the Commission is to ensure that a human rights perspective is brought to our efforts to address these problems,” Ms Noonan said.

“Each of the new commissioners has provided outstanding leadership in their field and brings strong experience and a wide diversity of views to the Commission. Their appointment strengthens our ability to address the difficult systemic issues that face New Zealand society today.”

The position of Race Relations Commissioner has been readvertised and the Commission hopes that an appointment will be made shortly. Until an appointment is made, current Race Relations Commissioner Gregory Fortuin will continue in the role.

Biographical Details:

Human Rights Commissioners:

- Robyn Hunt is a consultant with 20 years experience in the fields of human rights and equity issues. Her focus areas have been disability and Equal Employment issues. She is President of the Council of Workbridge Inc and co-chair of the Disability Strategy Sector Reference Group. She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to people with disabilities in 2001.

- Joy Liddicoat is currently a legal practitioner in sole practice. She specialises in Human Rights law with particular emphasis on women and children.. She is also an expert in constitutional law and in public law. Ms Liddicoat is a recognised international expert on violence against women. Ms Liddicoat is Chairperson of the Public Advisory Committee to the Legal Services Agency and a Member of the Women’s Consultative Group.

- Warren Lindberg has experience in education, community development, mental health and AIDS. Before his appointment as a Human Rights Commissioner last year, he was the Manager for the Project to Counter Stigma and Discrimination Associated with Mental Illness for the Ministry of Health. Prior to that he was the Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. Mr Lindberg was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to welfare in 1999.

- Merimeri Penfold (Ngati Kuri) was a lecturer in Maori language at Auckland University for more than 30 years. She was a member of the Maori Education Foundation , the University of Auckland Marae Establishment Committee and an executive member of the Broadcasting Commission from 1989 to 1991. Dr Penfold was also a co-member of the editorial team that worked on the seventh edition of Williams Maori Language Dictionary. She was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Maori in 2001.

- Michael Powles has a Master of Laws and extensive international experience. He has worked as a Political Advisor for the United Nations; prior to that he was New Zealand’s representative to the United Nations. He has also been Ambassador to China, Ambassador to Indonesia and High Commissioner to Fiji. Mr Powles has been a Human Rights Commissioner since May last year.

Director of Human Rights Proceedings:

- Robert Hesketh has 20 years experience in the justice system. He has been a District Court Judge and is a LEADR accredited mediator. He was a Tenancy Adjudicator for eight years. Mr Hesketh has also been active in a number of community organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux and Lifeline.

Chair of Human Rights Review Tribunal:

- Royden Hindle has 20 years litigation experience and is currently a barrister sole practising in the civil area. He holds an LLM from Cambridge University, is accredited as a LEADR mediator and is an Associate of the Arbitrators and Mediators’ Institute. Mr Hindle was a recipient of the Sir Ronald Davidson Award for the best Arbitration Award in 2001. He also acted as counsel assisting the Cervical Screening Inquiry.

Ends

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