New appointments to the Human Rights Commission

posted: 2:00 pm - 4th October 2018

New Zealand's Justice Minister Hon. Andrew Little has announced Dr Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo (pictured) as Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner. 

A Principal Policy Advisor at Oranga Tamariki working to improve outcomes for Pacific Children and Families, Saunoamaali’i has extensive experience within the public sector including roles with the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and the Tertiary Education Commission.

Her professional and academic background has advocated for the promotion of economic development, social, and employment interests of marginalised groups particularly women, Pacific Peoples, learners and young people.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including PhD in public policy from AUT University.

She takes over the role from former National MP Dr Jackie Blue.

Meanwhile, distinguished human rights advocate and Lawyer Professor Paul Hunt has been appointed as Chief Human Rights 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.

“I would like to congratulate both commissioners on their appointments within the Humans Rights Commission,” Minister Little says.

“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.”

The Human Rights Commission plays a vital role in holding the Government to account on its human rights record, while it also provides guidance on improving fairness, freedom, rights and dignity.

Minister Little says he looks 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,” Minister Little says.

A 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, while leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament were consulted.