Impact story: Aotearoa New Zealand

Getting the government’s attention in New Zealand

We often say that ‘leaders are moved by numbers’, so getting our numbers in front of decision-makers is crucial. We were really pleased to see the strong press attention to our 2022 human rights scores for New Zealand.

The data

The economic and social rights scores show that Aotearoa New Zealand is a long way from meeting its obligations – and that it could be doing so much more, even without more resources.

New Zealand's economic and social rights scores (graph), education and food fall in the bad range, health in the fair range, and work in the very bad range.

For example, Aotearoa New Zealand is doing 85.3% of what it could be doing, with the resources it currently has, to guarantee the right to education. It is falling short of its obligations to devote its maximum available resources to protect Quality of Life rights.

Our data also document huge inequities, with Māori, Pacific people, disabled people, and anyone in poverty much more likely to be missing out on their basic rights. See the data on the right to education below.

graph showing which groups of people were identified by experts as being at risk of having their right to food violated in NZ, including indigenous people, those with low socioenomic status, people with disabilities, homeless youth, etc

67% of our human rights experts identified Indigenous people as being at risk of having their right to education violated. The government is not fulfilling its obligation to protect the right to education for all people.

The coverage

The NZ Human Rights Commission made a public statement on the scores, with comments from each of the Commissioners. Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand also put out a press release on the scores.

Leading news outlet in Aotearoa New Zealand, Stuff, published a front page article on NZ’s alarming human rights record, including an interview with Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt.

Stuff NZ front page article screenshot: Human rights Commissioner: NZ's quality of life record 'alarming'. image: Commissioner being interviewed

For several days after, HRMI’s NZ scores appeared in news outlets such as:

The response

After all this news coverage, the Minister of Justice issued a public statement responding to the scores – so we know for sure that the most powerful leaders in Aotearoa are having to take into account the public exposure of the country’s poor human rights performance.

STuff NZ headline: Minister defends government's work on human rights


If you’d like to create this kind of impact in your country, help us get in touch with the Human Rights Institute/Commission, leading journalists, and human rights experts. Feel free to contact us anytime, we’d love to hear from you and figure out how we can help make leaders around the world pay attention to human rights in their country.