Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand)
10D/15 City Rd.
Ph: (0064) (09) 940 9658
(Our Council’s aim is to have the human rights excluded from domestic and international human rights law included because we consider it is causing massive social class discrimination in New Zealand and this is also likely to be the case in many other States as well).
Attention: New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner.
Dear Rosslyn Noonan, (also see her reply below on August 8, 2010),
in the light of the dreadful social statistics (see below) that are emerging I consider there is a need for a full investigation into what happened to those people lower on the social scale in New Zealand since 1984 so that this ‘truth’ can be made known to mainstream New Zealand.
I am convinced that every attempt is being made to ensure mainstream New Zealand remains ignorant of what is going on at the lower social levels. It is hoped that the findings of such an investigation would not be ignored by the mainstream media – both public and private. For example, the articles written on my recent court case by reporters from Fairfax and the New Zealand Press Association, and in my experience very true to form by our mainstream media, only reached the internet and made no mention of the tragedy at the bottom end of the social scale which I had highlighted in court (see the articles at the end of my submission to the court, ‘Freedom is not an impossible dream’ on our website: www.hrc2001.org.nz ).
Given what I see as a major tragedy has happened despite the existence of human rights commissions in New Zealand I consider it would be in the interests of human rights if the commission took the initiative and engaged in a full investigation given these statistics. This is also important if the United Nation’s decision to devolve greater responsibility for upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to human rights commissions and NGOs is to be seen in a positive light.
Also, perhaps at a personal level, you may also consider this important as at one of our meetings, while you did not say so, I sensed your disappointment when you realized with the onset of the financial crisis that human rights was not going to ‘trickle down’ just as many people have had to accept that the promise of money ‘trickling down’ as a consequence of globalization was not going to happen. In her reply to this request on 8 August 2010 Rosslyn Noonan expressed her ‘deep concern about the entrenched inequalities and relative poverty in New Zealand’ and also described what the commission was doing about it (see email below).
What I find upsetting are the many people coming before the courts with a heavy burden of responsibility placed on their shoulders because of their crimes – yet from my own experience I am very aware that many of these people would have had exceedingly little choice in the matter (truly, only those who had experienced it could possible know) – rather, in my view, their criminal acts are far more a consequence of gross State irresponsibility. But there are also many others living lives of humiliation and hopelessness such as the mentally ill in the community and also amongst those in the beneficiary sector and particularly the under class. Yet I consider with the political will so much could be done involving very little cost e.g. the setting up of stalls in vacant parking lots on the weekend (there is one in Elliot St., Auckland City) so they can employ their entrepreneurial skills and creativity in a community setting and perhaps make some money in addition to the benefit.
Also, it is owed to the children of the underclass, who may have been mistreated by their parents, that they understand what their parents were put through. Also, one day I may write about how I managed to avoid the fate of many others – suffice to say it was related to my very fortuitous adoption of the universal declaration of human rights as my belief system in 1991, with fate a major factor, but also other factors following just as important.
I consider that what happened over the past 25 years has created considerable fear and hopelessness in society and that this is very likely stand in the path of progress and adaptation to global changes. I consider that only by making the ‘truth’ known can this fear be overcome as well as by showing understanding towards those who were victims.
I’ll mention just a few issues briefly which I consider need to be addressed but there are many others of similar importance:
(1) As you are aware States are becoming increasingly concerned with internal conflict and we are moving closer, it seems, to China (e.g. the proposed East Asian Regional bloc) - see Freedom House in their annual survey, ‘Freedom in the World 2010’, which is entitled, ‘Erosion of Freedom Intensifies’. Some of these countries will not appreciate neo liberal States encouraging liberal tendencies in their States. And also it may not be very wise for New Zealand to be too dependent on China’s productive sector. It is just that I am aware that China prioritizes food over freedom whereas I consider them of equal status very particularly at the level of core minimum obligations. It would not surprise me if neo liberal countries took a more ethical approach China could well give their people greater freedoms necessary afterall for ‘bottom-up’ development. I consider we need a new dream - the ethical approach I have been promoting rather than the present political approach.
(2) Also, I consider that the affirmative action that has been conducted over the past 25 years was not in ‘good faith’ as required by section 19 (2) of the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 as the exclusion of non-discrimination on the grounds of social origin has been left out so this affirmative very much applied only to those higher on the social scale. Also the exclusion of this prohibited ground of non-discrimination empowers those of a higher social status irrespective of whether it has been earned or not. The overlooking of those with greater ability i.e. the ‘tall poppies’, who would be more likely to seek truth, question and speak out, may well have contributed considerably to the terrible social statistics we now see and which in my view reflects the utter incompetence – or perhaps ‘gross human rights malpractice’ is a better description - of our governments and bureaucracy. In my experience, they pursued their very discriminatory policies with a fanatical zeal over a period of 25 years.
During my recent appearance at the Auckland High Court High Court Justice Lyn Stevens stated that he found my submission, ‘Freedom is not an impossible dream’, very helpful. From the outset in my court appearance I explained that a tragedy had occurred at the lower levels of New Zealand society and stated that ‘this would be something New Zealand would regret for many years to come’. Justice Stevens, seemingly concerned about the social statistics, asked me why I had not informed society earlier. I explained that I had tried my best to do so but I could not get it into the mainstream. But, as stated above, the media made no mention of the tragedy.
In my view, there is much work to be done and although it will be far from easy the sooner such an investigation takes place and the ‘truth’ made known the better.
(A brief summary of the emerging terrible social statistics can be found in and at the end of the article, “Freedom is not an impossible dream” on our website: www.hrc2001.org.nz .)
The following is the reply from Rosslyn Noonan (email, 8 August 2010)
I have a deep concern about the entrenched inequalities and relative poverty in New Zealand that, while existing for a long time, rapidly worsened in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. Clearly New Zealand is not realizing the economic, social and cultural rights of all its people.
I think you will find some recognition of this in the Commission’s review of human rights in New Zealand in 2010. We are progressively releasing draft chapters for public comment and input. I have attached one of the right to an adequate standard of living. If you have difficulty opening this, just let me know and I will print it off and post it to you. This one focuses particularly on social security, a second on the right to shelter / housing. Your comments in the e-mail to me are directly relevant to the right to an adequate standard of living. With your permission I would like to include them as part of the feedback we have received and reflect them as appropriate in the next draft.
We are also looking at the right to work, health and education, amongst others. There is also a chapter on equality and discrimination and another on the international human rights framework (these two are not yet on the website).
Let me know where things are up to now with your court case. Have you been able to pay the fine?
Chief Commissioner / Te Amokapua
Te Kahui Tika Tangata / Human Rights Commission
Phone: + 64 9 375 8632