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Jobs, shops, flats and other areas of life where discrimination is illegal


New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, ss 5, 19

It’s illegal for state schools, universities and polytechs to discriminate against you, unless the particular government policy or action that’s discriminatory is a reasonable limitation on your rights.

Human Rights Act 1993, s 57

It’s also illegal for private schools and tertiary institutions to discriminate against you on any of the illegal grounds of discrimination by:

  • refusing or failing to accept you as a student
  • accepting you on less favourable conditions than those made available to others
  • denying or restricting your access to any benefits or services that the institution provides
  • excluding you as a student or disadvantaging you in some other way.

Exceptions that allow discrimination in private education

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 58–60

These are some of the exceptions that allow private schools and tertiary institutions to discriminate:

  • Institutions for particular groups – Educational institutions can limit access to students of a particular sex, race or religious belief, or to students with a particular disability, or to students in a particular age group.
  • Preference for jobless or particular ages – Preferential access to training facilities can be given to unemployed people and people in particular age groups.
  • Courses and counselling on personal issues – Educational institutions can provide courses and counselling that are restricted to people of a particular sex, race, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation if highly personal issues are involved, such as sex or preventing violence.
  • Disability – A disabled person can be discriminated against if it would be “unreasonable” to require the institution to provide the necessary special facilities. An institution can also discriminate if your impairment presents a risk to yourself or to others, unless the risk can be reduced to a normal level without unreasonable disruption. For information about learning support for disabled students, see the chapter “Disability rights”, under “Education: Access and learning support for disabled and Deaf students”.
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