Bill of Rights Act 1990
Your rights under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 include:
The Right to Life
- Right not to be deprived of life: No one is allowed to kill you.
- Right not to be subjected to torture or cruel treatment: No one is allowed to hurt you.
- Right to refuse to undergo medical treatment: You can tell a doctor that you don’t want treatment.
Freedom of Expression
- Freedom of expression: You’re able to say your opinion.
- Freedom of thought: You’re able to think and believe whatever you want.
- Freedom of religion: You’re able to practice your religion.
- Freedom of association: You’re able to socialise/interact/be with anyone you want.
Right to Education
In New Zealand, every child is entitled to free and compulsory primary school education. It is also a requirement that every person has access to higher education, such as University, without discrimination.
The right to education should be free from violence and harassment; where individuality and diversity are respected, and where all those involved can participate fully.
Schools are required to have rules that do not discriminate against a particular group and to provide a safe and bullying-free learning environment for students. All forms of bullying should be reported to the school. The school has a responsibility to intervene and support you in response to bullies.
Right to be Free from Discrimination
Everyone in New Zealand has the right to equality, equal protection of the law, and freedom from all forms of discrimination.
Discrimination is when a person is treated unfairly based on:
- Sex or gender,
- Marital status,
- Religion or beliefs,
If you think someone has unlawfully discriminated against you, it is important you write down exactly what happened. This way, if you want to take your complaint further you have a written record of the discrimination. Then you can complain to the Human Rights Commission using their website, which can be found in the contacts list at the bottom of this page.
Racial discrimination is where someone is being racist or hurtful towards you due to your race and is harmful to you. This harassment may impact your work, study, access to services, and other everyday actions. Your employer has a responsibility to take steps to prevent racial harassment in the workplace.
If you experience racial discrimination:
- Keep a record of the incident(s).
- Talk to someone you trust.
- If possible, tell the person harassing you to stop (which can be in person, in a letter, or through a representative).
- If that is not appropriate or the person does not stop, you can seek assistance from your manager or school counsellor, the Human Rights Commission, the Employment Relations Authority.
For more information, you can visit the Human Rights Commission website here.
The Human Rights Commission: Complaints and Enquiries
If you have experienced discrimination or feel that your human rights have been violated, you can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission. They work to protect and advocate for the human rights of all people in New Zealand. This is done by responding to and resolving human rights complaints and providing legal representation. The process is free and confidential.
Once you have made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, they can help you in three different ways:
- First, they can address the situation directly if the discrimination or bullying is linked to one of the grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act, which includes, sex, race, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Secondly, they could provide you with advice on the wider human rights aspects of a situation, depending on the facts.
- Lastly, they could put you in touch with organisations that have specific responsibilities for dealing with complaints about bullying at school, so you can get the support and help you need.
The Human Rights Commission can be contacted by:
Phone: 0800 496 877
Further Useful Contacts:
CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU
Citizens Advice Bureau provides free and confidential advice to everyone.
P: 0800 367 222 OR 04 472 2466
Community Law provides free legal advice.
P: (04) 499 2928
HOUSING NEW ZEALAND
Housing NZ can provide you with information about state housing.
P: 0800 801 601
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The Human Rights Commission can provide information about discrimination and help resolve complaints about discrimination.
P: 0800 496 877
INLAND REVENUE (IRD)
The IRD can give you information about taxes and tax returns.
P: 0800 775 247
StudyLink can give you information about applying for a student loan or allowance.
P: 0800 889 900
Tenancy Services can help you with issues that arise when renting a property.
P: 0800 836 262
WORK AND INCOME (WINZ)
WINZ can provide you with information about benefits, allowances, and finding a job.
P: 0800 559 009