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Human Rights Commission Warmly Welcomes Disability Rights Commissioner’s Re-Appointment

The Human Rights Commission is delighted to learn that Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy has re-appointed Paula Tesoriero MNZM as Disability Rights Commissioner for another five years.

Paula Tesoriero MNZM

Tesoriero has been Disability Rights Commissioner for three years, with the re-appointment commencing 31 July 2020. A role within the Human Rights Commission, the Disability Rights Commissioner works to promote and protect the rights of disabled New Zealanders.

“This is wonderful news for the Commission, disabled people and everyone in Aotearoa,” says Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt.

“Paula is not only a national leader in disability rights, she is also a global leader.”

Her re-appointment aligns with the Māori calendar “as we welcome Puanga and Matariki to herald the beginning of a new cycle. Reflecting on the past and planning for the future”.

Tesoriero says there is much to be done to further the rights of disabled people, 1 in 4 New Zealanders.

“I feel privileged to be in this role. I will keep advocating for disability rights to be front and centre in decision-making,” Tesoriero says.

“The COVID19 experience was such a stark reminder of the opportunity and responsibility to fix the gaps for disabled people that have existed for many years that COVID19 shone the light on.”

Ms Tesoriero thanked her colleagues at the Commission for their support.


The Commission has four commissioners: Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner; Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner; Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner, and Paula Tesoriero, Disability Rights Commissioner.

Paula Tesoriero’s background

Paula Tesoriero MNZM is a world-champion athlete and a former senior public service manager, who is currently serving as the Disability Rights Commissioner. 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 is also serving as Chef de Mission for the New Zealand heading to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

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