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The Human Rights Commission’s role in the Treaty debate – Part 2

In brief

  • In our opinion, the HRC appears to be a hotbed of leftists supporting UNDRIP and Māori self-determination. 
  • Paul Hunt appears to ignore neutrality in flaunting the HRC’s left leaning politics, using the platform and taxpayer funds to do so.
  • Hunt is on the way out. Is Claire Charters soon to follow?
  • Many call for Human Rights Commission’s abolishment making its future uncertain. 

In Part 1, we delved into the concerns raised by the HRC’s recent poll, suggesting it may be using taxpayer funds to promote the left’s interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

A closer examination reveals the HRC’s seeming alignment with left leaning, globalist UN principles and its support for UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). This is further underscored by the involvement of Paul Hunt and Claire Charters. Taxpayer funding is channelled into what is supposed to be a non-partisan institution, yet its role appears to be dedicated to promoting the globalist left’s political activities.

Historical context and evolution of the Human Rights Commission

Established in 1977, the HRC was initially focused on promoting human rights and resolving discrimination-related disputes. Over time, it expanded its role to include Treaty-related issues. 

The HRC holds accreditation from the United Nations, allowing it to address the body’s international human rights forums. It contributes “shadow reports” on New Zealand’s human rights compliance and chairs international human rights discussions.

Human Rights Commission" could be: "Illustration of Human Rights Commission symbolizes commitment to human rights advocacy and protection.
The new government is ready to pull the plug on Hunt. What comes next?

As part of the UN network, the HRC’s alignment with globalist UN principles and promotion of UNDRIP have led many to view it as a body advancing a specific political agenda.

UNDRIP is used as a basis to support Māori self-determination and co-governance, which some (including many in the current Government) argue may not align with the interests of all New Zealanders.

Claire Charters and Paul Hunt

Dr Claire Charters is an academic and Māori rights activist. She has a background that includes several years with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Charters also played a pivotal role in drafting He Puapua and is known for her stance against a one-law-for-all policy, instead pursuing a one-sided view of Māori self determination.

In 2023, Charters joined the Human Rights Commission. According to the former Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, Charters was chosen for the role specifically because of her experience with UNDRIP.

Paul Hunt, NZ’s Human Rights Commissioner also has a background working with OHCHR along with several other UN organisations. Hunt says he’s not political, but generally aligns with the political left. 

He’s accused NZ of being steeped in white supremacy, institutional and structural racism, and claims Māori fundamental rights have been denied and undermined by colonisation.

Backing He Puapua

The He Puapua report, commissioned in 2019, focuses on Māori self-determination, aligning with UNDRIP and their partisan view that the Treaty calls for a partnership between Māori and the Crown. 

Hunt endorsed the document as a furthering of UNDRIP’s implementation and as a “reinforcement of the rights enshrined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its creation of a blueprint for upholding the promises it contains”. 

Partisan allegations and Government tolerance

Critics, including political parties National, ACT and NZ First, accuse the HRC of partisan bias, especially regarding co-governance and Treaty-related principles.

The Government’s ultimate stance on the HRC’s advocacy remains to be seen. ACT, National and NZ First have called either for its abolishment, or for Hunt to be sacked, or both. 

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith has already announced Hunt won’t be reappointed for another term after January 2024. 

“It is no longer interested in helping real people with actual human rights issues, but simply advancing a left-wing agenda,” says ACT leader David Seymour. As part of a coalition deal, NZ First has demanded all work on He Puapua be stopped immediately and a formal declaration that UNDRIP has no binding legal effect on NZ. 

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