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Human Rights Commission Pays Tribute To Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission recognises the outstanding contributions of Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo.

Minister of Justice Hon Paul Goldsmith has confirmed with Hunt and Sumeo that their Commissioner warrants will not be renewed.

Sumeo, whose five-year warrant ended in October, will continue as acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner, acting Race Relations Commissioner, and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner until new appointments or arrangements are made. Hunt will leave the Commission at the conclusion of his five-year warrant as Chief Commissioner on January 13th, 2024.

As a national human rights institution, the Commission must demonstrate its independence of government and promote the full spectrum of human rights, according to robust international human rights standards as well as domestic law.

Hunt says “I’m honoured to have served as Chief Human Rights Commissioner for the last five years. I’ve tried to advance all human rights for everyone in our extraordinary country. Not just equality and freedom of speech, vital though they are, but also other human rights which governments have legally agreed to deliver, such as the right to a decent home.

I’ve tried to be there for the disadvantaged and to hold the powerful – government and companies – to account.

Crucially, human rights are not just about entitlements, they are also about building healthy relationships and respecting responsibilities that we all have to each other.

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The Commission is required to promote national and international human rights law and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an incredibly rich human rights document from which all of us, Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti, can benefit enormously,” Hunt says.

“I thank profusely everyone, Commissioners, all Commission staff, and thousands of people up and down the country, who have supported me since 2019.”

Tatau-Uruora | Chief Executive Meg de Ronde says “We hugely respect and acknowledge the great service Paul has contributed to human rights in Aotearoa. He has brought to life a much richer understanding of human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the human rights dimensions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

“Paul has been a truly independent-minded Chief Commissioner, who has challenged the government to be accountable for its human rights and Te Tiriti promises. He has championed the rights and responsibilities of everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand,” de Ronde says.

“We look forward to further highlighting Paul’s tremendous work as Chief Commissioner upon the formal conclusion of his term in January.”

“The Commission Board, executive team, and the Commission team look forward to continuing to realise human rights with the future commissioners,” says de Ronde.

Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo will continue to serve alongside Te Kaihautū Tika Hauātanga|Disability Rights Commissioner Prudence Walker (who was appointed this year), Rongomau Taketake|Indigenous Rights Partner Claire Charters, the Office of Human Rights Proceedings, and the Commission team in offering advocacy, education, campaigns, and in providing free services to the public through this period of change.

“We remain steadfast in our mission to promote and protect human rights towards the realisation of a life of dignity and mana for everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand, utilising our mandate, resources and political independence,” Sumeo says.

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