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Individual rights & freedoms

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

Going to the Human Rights Commission

How do I complain to the Human Rights Commission?

Contact the Commission to tell them about your complaint. The Commission may ask you to put your complaint in writing if the dispute is complicated or long-term, or if putting it in writing would help to resolve the dispute.

How will the Human Rights Commission deal with my complaint?

Human Rights Act 1993, s 77, 85–87

The Commission will first try to help you resolve the problem yourself. If that doesn’t work, the Commission has a team of mediators who are available to help resolve disputes. A mediator is an impartial person who doesn’t act for either side in a dispute, but who tries instead to help the parties talk through the issues and come to an agreed settlement.

The mediator from the Commission will try to resolve the problem informally and, if that’s not successful, through mediation between you and the other person or organisation. Mediation is free and confidential. Anything that either side says during mediation can’t be used later on – for example, if the dispute goes to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. Both sides are strongly encouraged not to talk publicly about the mediation process.

Do I need a lawyer for the mediation process?

No, but you can have one if you wish.

What are some of the possible outcomes of mediation?

Human Rights Act 1993, s 83

A possible outcome of mediation may be that the other person will:

  • apologise to you
  • promise not to repeat the discrimination
  • attend an education programme
  • pay you money as compensation.

What if the Commission’s help doesn’t resolve the dispute?

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 84, 92B

If your complaint can’t be resolved with the Commission’s help, you can take it to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings or you can go to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Human Rights Commission


Human Rights Commission InfoLine

Phone: 0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Text enquiries: 0210 236 4253

A free phone and email information service that you can use for enquiries about your rights or to make a complaint under the Human Rights Act 1993.


You can access pamphlets and fact sheets online or order hard copies from:
Phone: 0800 496 877
Email: resources@hrc.co.nz

Race Relations Commissioner


Phone: 0800 496 877

This section of the Human Rights Commission focuses specifically on ensuring people are not treated unfairly because of their race, ethnicity, skin colour or country of origin.

Human Rights Review Tribunal


This website provides information about the Tribunal and the hearing process and it also has forms, guides and information about fees.

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