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Individual rights & freedoms

Taking action: What you can do if you’re discriminated against


Human Rights Act 1993, s 76

If you believe you’ve been discriminated against illegally, you can complain to the Human Rights Commission.

If it was a private organisation or person who discriminated against you, the Human Rights Commission will apply the rules in the Human Rights Act 1993 to work out whether the behaviour was illegal discrimination. The Commission will try to help you sort out the matter with the other person or organisation. If your complaint can’t be resolved in this way, you can take it to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (“OHRP”). The OHRP might decide to take your complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The OHRP may also try to resolve the complaint between you and the other party.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal is like a court. The Tribunal hears from both sides and then makes a decision, rather than acting as a mediator between the two sides. The Tribunal can award you money (“damages”) or other remedies.

Complaining about discrimination by government bodies

Human Rights Act 1993, s 79(3)

If your complaint is about a public body or official, the Commission will apply the rules in the Bill of Rights, which include the exception for reasonable and justifiable discrimination. (However, the Human Rights Act 1993 will apply if your complaint is about employment).

The Human Rights Commission cannot receive complaints about the following types of discrimination by state bodies:

  • Discrimination within parliament – This is dealt with by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Discriminatory court decisions – These are challenged using the court system’s normal appeals process.
  • Immigration laws, policies and decisions – The Human Rights Commission can’t receive complaints about the Immigration Act 2009 or the government’s published immigration policies, nor about how immigration officials apply that Act or those policies.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission website provides information about human rights in Aotearoa and outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz or www.hrc.co.nz
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Phone:  0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process: www.tikatangata.org.nz/resources-and-support/make-a-complaint

Human Rights Review Tribunal

This website provides information about the tribunal and the hearing process and contains the relevant application forms.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/human-rights

Make a claim to the Human Rights Review Tribunal: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/human-rights/make-a-claim

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings can provide free legal representation to people wanting to bring unlawful discrimination proceedings in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz/about-us/office-of-human-rights-proceedings
Email: ohrp@ohrp.org.nz
Phone: 09 375 8623

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