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New appointments to the Human Rights Commission

Distinguished human rights advocate and lawyer Professor Paul Hunt has been appointed as Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today.

Mr Little also announced the appointment of Dr Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo as Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner.

Professor Hunt joins the Human Rights Commission from Essex University in Britain, but had previously served with the United Nations in several roles, including as a special rapporteur, while Dr Sumeo joins the Commission from Oranga Tamariki.

“I would like to congratulate both commissioners on their appointments within the Humans Rights Commission. Each commissioner brings a wealth of experience in improving human rights both nationally and abroad.

“Their experience, leadership and fresh perspective stood out amongst some distinguished applicants, and are deemed to be the best candidates to take the Commission forward.”

“Professor Hunt will lead the continued implementation of Judge Coral Shaw’s recommendations in improving the internal processes within the Commission.

“The Commission plays a vital role in holding the government to account on its human rights record. It provides guidance on improving fairness, freedom, rights and dignity.

“I look forward to working with both the Chief Human Rights Commissioner and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing New Zealanders.

Mr Little also thanked Paula Tesoriero for leading the Commission as Acting Chief Commissioner after David Rutherford resigned in May.

“Ms Tesoriero will return to her substantive role as Disability Rights Commissioner when Professor Hunt takes up his new position.  I also want to thank retiring Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue for her service,” said Mr Little.

The final vacant Commissioner position will be filled in the coming weeks. The process and panels used to appoint Commissioners is independent and complies with the Paris Principles. The leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament were consulted.