Skip to main content

New Zealand : legal resources: Rights In NZ

Rights in NZ

Structure protecting and promoting civil, political, and human rights as they develop is based on both domestic legislation and NZ's undertakings under public international law. Two principal acts are the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 Human Rights Act 1993

Under Human Rights Act 1993, s.21 prohibited grounds of discrimination in NZ are:

  • Age (from age 16 years)
  • Colour
  • Disability
  • Employment Status
  • Ethical Belief (lack of religious belief)
  • Ethnic or National Origins (includes nationality and citizenship)
  • Family Status (having dependents, not having dependents, being married to, or in a civil union or de facto relationship with, a particular person or being a relative of a particular person)
  • Marital Status (single, married, in a civil union or a de facto relationship, separated, a party to a marriage or civil union now dissolved, widowed)
  • Political Opinion (including having no political opinion)
  • Race & Racial Harassment
  • Religious Belief
  • Sex & Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual)

Privacy Act 1993 controls how 'agencies' collect, use, disclose, store and give access to 'personal information'.
The privacy Codes of Practice apply to specific areas - such as health and telecommunications. Please see link to official website below.


The Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner was established by legislation in 1994. The Commissioner's duties are to promote and protect the rights of health and disability services consumers, and to facilitate the resolution of any complaints - with a national network of independent advocates, and an independent prosecutor.  A Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights first became law in 1996, and has since been reviewed. Please see link to official website below.

Human Rights Review Tribunal of NZ

Provided the claimant has made a prior complaint to one (or more) of the related commissioners (see left hand column), the Tribunal can decide claims arising from breaches of the

  • Human Rights Act 1993
  • Privacy Act 1993
  • Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994
  • discrimination
  • sexual harassment
  • racial harassment
  • privacy principles
  • Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.

Civil rights in NZ