The New Zealand Human Rights Commission (hereafter the HRC) is a national human rights institution recognised nationally and internationally for leading the promotion and protection of human rights for all people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Acknowledging this strength, the HRC should be an exemplar employer in relation to matters of human rights violations in its own workplace.
Between December 2017 and February 2018, media in New Zealand widely publicised reports of a sexual harassment incident that had occurred within the HRC in October 2017. The incident had been formally investigated and resolved, but the reports raised concerns about the investigation and management of the incident.
On 21 February 2018, pursuant to section 132 of the Crown Entities Act 2004, the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, appointed retired Judge Coral Shaw to review the HRC in relation to internal sexual harassment claims, and make recommendations upon the following Terms of Reference:
- The systems and processes for investigating and resolving internal sexual harassment claims used by the HRC, having regard to legal and other public-sector standards and the fact the Commission is expected to be an exemplar in this respect
- Whether the governance and management structures and arrangements of the HRC adequately support the prudent handling of sexual harassment claims
- The organisational culture of the HRC.
The Review does not investigate or make factual findings about any individual incidents or allegations.
The Review invited past and present HRC personnel to participate1 . Participants contributed their experiences of and perspectives on the issues raised in the Terms of Reference through an online survey, written submissions and face-to-face interviews.
The contributions of these participants raised a number of consistent themes and issues that form the basis of this report and of my conclusions and recommendations.