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Individual rights & freedoms

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

Going to the Human Rights Review Tribunal

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 90–92K

The Tribunal is independent of the Human Rights Commission. It has the powers of a court and its proceedings are generally open to the public. Each side of the dispute has the opportunity to present their case. The Tribunal will then make a decision about whether the Human Rights Act 1993 has been breached and, if so, what should be done about it.

Will it cost me anything to take my case to the Tribunal?

If the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (OHRP) has decided to take your case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the OHRP will provide you with legal representation free of charge. You will not need to hire a lawyer yourself.

If the OHRP doesn’t take the case for you, you can still go to the Tribunal, but you’ll have to pay the costs of getting a lawyer yourself.

What can the Human Rights Review Tribunal do about my complaint?

The Tribunal can order the other party:

  • to pay you damages (money) for:
    • any financial loss you’ve suffered
    • the loss of any benefit, whether financial or non-financial, that you might otherwise have had
    • any humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings that you’ve suffered
  • not to continue or repeat the discrimination
  • to do particular things to put right any loss or damage you’ve suffered.

What happens at the Human Rights Review Tribunal?

Human Rights Act 1993, s 92F(2)

If your case goes to the Human Rights Review Tribunal you’ll have to show the Tribunal first, that the discrimination was on one of the illegal grounds; second, that it was in one of the relevant areas of life (like applying for a job or a flat); and third, that you were disadvantaged by it. But if the person who discriminated against you thinks there’s an exception that justifies what they did, they will to convince the Tribunal of this, rather than you having to show that the exception didn’t apply in your case. The legal term for this issue is “the burden of proof” (or “onus of proof”) – so when it comes to exceptions that allow discrimination, the other person bears the burden of proving that the exception applies in your case.

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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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