New Zealand: Everything you need to know about human rights

New Zealand: Everything you need to know about human rights

Every year we publish our annual report on the state of human rights in the world. One year into the investigation, 155 countries were analysed. Here's what you need to know about human rights in New Zealand in 2023.

The investigations concluded that the government had repeatedly failed in its duty to protect the rights of the Māori people. Human rights concerns persisted in the criminal justice system, including juvenile justice procedures and conditions of detention.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigned in January and was replaced by Christopher Hipkins. The legislative elections in October led to a change of government; Christopher Luxon took office as Prime Minister in November.

There were 11 deaths recorded due to the passage of Hurricane Gabriel in February, the strength of which was undoubtedly exacerbated by climate change.

Rights of indigenous peoples

The Waitangi Tribunal, the body responsible for hearing complaints from Māori in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi), has highlighted numerous failures to fulfill obligations arising from this treaty in relation to the protection of the Māori population. The Court published a report on the performance of the judicial system in February, which revealed shortcomings in the financial support mechanisms for complainants, which weakened the ability of Māori to participate fully in the body's proceedings. In May, the court released a report into Māori housing services and policies, which found multiple treaty breaches in dealing with Māori homelessness.

Rights of refugees or immigrants

The government introduced legislation in March to extend the period for which an asylum seeker who has arrived in New Zealand as part of “collective arrivals” can be detained without a referral order. The text stipulated extending this period to 28 days, compared to 96 hours previously.

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Rights of detained persons

The human rights defender published a report in June by the Prison Service showing that administrative decisions are being made without sufficient regard for the need to ensure the safety of detainees and ensure that they are treated fairly and humanely, increasing the risk that they will be subjected to abuses and that the rights of detainees will be violated.

In its concluding observations adopted by the Committee against Torture following consideration of New Zealand's seventh periodic report in July [ONU] It raised significant concerns, including prison conditions and the disproportionate number of Māori in the prison system.

children rights

Committee against Torture [ONU] In her concluding remarks, she noted that she had long been concerned about the way children were treated in the justice system, including the age of criminal responsibility, which remained at 10 years.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner (now known as the Children and Young People's Commission) reported evidence of ill-treatment in two juvenile justice facilities. Allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior by staff at one of them were also received. In June, the former Children's Commissioner said juvenile justice facilities were unsafe and should be replaced with more suitable facilities.

The right to a healthy environment

After reviewing New Zealand's climate policies, actions and financing, as well as its nationally determined contribution targets, the Climate Action Tracking Study Group maintained its overall assessment of the country's efforts, which it deemed “grossly inadequate”.

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