The Human Rights Foundation promotes and defends human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad, through research-based education and advocacy. We are an independent non-governmental organisation established in December 2001.
We promote and defend human rights, by:
- making submissions on new laws with human rights implications
- monitoring New Zealand’s compliance and implementation of our international obligations under the international conventions our government has signed
- preparing shadow reports for relevant United Nations treaty bodies to be considered alongside official reports
- providing educational events and resources for the New Zealand public on topical human rights issues
Our primary focus is on human rights in New Zealand. However, we recognise that human rights are universal. Therefore, we maintain an interest in human rights in the Pacific and beyond.
We are a registered charity (CC22917). Among other things, this means your donations are tax deductible.
Former Governor General and High Court Judge, Dame Silvia Cartwright, is our Patron.
Peter Hosking | Chairperson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 1996, barrister Peter Hosking has been Senior Consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN agencies. He also carries out consultancies for the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law setting up national human rights institutions, building their capacity and evaluating international development programmes. He has worked extensively in the Asia Pacific, Africa and the former Soviet Union. From 1988 until 1996 he was Proceedings Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.
He holds a LLB degree and in 1992 completed a post-graduate Diploma in Corporate Management, graduating top student. In a varied career he has been a solicitor in the law reform division of the Justice Department, the litigation partner in a private law firm and self-employed in orchard management. He has undertaken extensive community work. He founded the Men’s Action Collective in Tauranga which ran living without violence courses for men and education courses on racism, sexism and the Treaty of Waitangi. He has been a member of the Marriage Guidance Council and the Alcohol Advisory Council. He has been active in environmental and tenants’ protection and various human rights NGOs and chairs Protect Piha Heritage Society Inc. He is the author of “Discrimination“, a Title in Halsbury’s “The Laws of New Zealand“, published by Butterworths and a range of other human rights reports and publications.
Oliver Hoffman | Treasurer
Oliver Hoffmann joined the Human Rights Foundation in the early 2000s but only became actively involved from 2011 onwards. With a background in mathematics and computer programming he helps out with the administrative side of the organisation, handling the finances and membership.
As the son of refugee parents he has always been a strong advocate for refugee rights. In fact, after gaining an M Sc from the University of Auckland, Oliver visited the land of his parents and completed postgraduate studies with a computer model of a hydromechanical problem. He stayed on in West Berlin where he was active in the local antifascist organisation. He rounded out his overseas experiences in 1986 with the publication of a book on Nazi terror and resistance in West Berlin’s central key suburb of Tiergarten.
Oliver has worked as a computer programmer, systems analyst, and polytechnic tutor (at Manukau Institute of Technology). He spent three years at a university computer centre in northern Nigeria where he became the Acting Director. In Auckland he ran his own bridge club for over ten years, writing then as now regular bridge articles; he has represented New Zealand in international bridge competition.
Oliver is spending his retirement years pursuing three passions: mentoring bridge online, contributing to conservation in Auckland by tackling invasive plants, and working on online educational projects to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten (for example Worldupsidedown – currently inactive – and the Jewish Online Museum). He is also a member of the Auckland Second Generation oral history group and the Family Perspectives Group of the Auckland District Health Board.
Margaret Bedggood CNZM | email@example.com
Professor Margaret Bedggood was made a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in the New Year Honours for services to human rights law. Still on our management committee, Margaret was our first chairperson (2001 – 2008) and before that was chief commissioner of the Human Rights Commission (1989-1994) and dean of the University of Waikato School of Law (1994-95) where she remains an Honorary Professor of Law. She was previously awarded Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (1993).
Margaret has an MA (NZ and London), an LLB (Otago) and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waikato. She has been a member of Amnesty International since 1968, was previously Chair of the New Zealand section and was a member of AI’s governing body, the International Executive Committee, from 1999 to 2005.
She has taught in a variety of institutions and jurisdictions and has published in tort, employment law and human rights. She is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford, and a member of the Faculty of a Masters’ Programme at the University of Oxford on International Human Rights Law.
She has been a member of the NZ Refugee Council and of the Peace Foundation Council and is a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Peace and Conflict Studies Centre Trust, which helped to establish the Centre at the University of Otago in 2009. She co-edited the Human Rights Foundation’s publication Law into Action: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand, (Thomson Reuters, 2011) and more recently co-edited International Human Rights Law in Aotearoa New Zealand, also published by Thomson Reuters (2018).
Margaret Lewis is an Auckland Barrister and member of Southern Cross Chambers specialising in civil litigation including Employment law, Relationship Property and Trusts. She holds Bachelor degrees from the University of Auckland, in Arts (psychology) and Law. Margaret also practices as a Mediator holding accreditation with LEADR New Zealand.
Margaret`s professional activities include membership of: LEADR panel of Mediators; Member Institute of Directors with an interest in not for profit organisations; voluntary consultations on referral from the Auckland Community Law Centre; and serving on various sub-committees of the Auckland District Law Society which have included Public Issues, Continuing Education, Employment and currently, Court Liason.
Margaret has been actively involved in the human rights field since the 1980s as a former President and Chairperson of the Auckland Council for Civil Liberties Inc; as a contributing author to the New Zealand Civil Rights Handbook (2001 and 2010) on employment law; as a member of a Ministry of Justice, Public law Consultative group; and as an invited speaker at conferences such as the Privacy Commissioner`s Conference, on DNA profiling and the Legal Research Foundation Conference, on home detention of sentenced prisoners. She also served as a member of the University of Auckland (Human Participants) Ethics Committee (UAHPEC) established to review and approve applications for non-medical research involving human participants.
Deborah Manning is a barrister specialising in human rights law including refugee and immigration law. From 2008-2011, she was a senior legal consultant to a Geneva-based human rights organisation which represents victims of grave human rights violations in the Arab region.
She was co-counsel for the Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui, successfully representing him in the review of the first national security risk certificate issued in New Zealand from 2003-2007. This was a landmark case which saw successful applications and appeals before the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court with Rodney Harrison QC as lead counsel.
Deborah is an Executive Member of the Refugee Council of New Zealand from 2000. She was the inaugural convener of the Auckland District Law Society Refugee and Immigration Committee from 2001-2006 and is currently a member of this committee.
Deborah currently practices as a barrister at Landmark Chambers in Auckland.
Ced Simpson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ced Simpson works in human rights promotion, education and facilitation, including assisting organisations adopt a human rights approach to professional policy and practice. He is the director of the Human Rights in Education Trust, supporting a broad collaborative initiative to develop New Zealand schools and early childhood education centres as ‘communities that know, promote and live human rights and responsibilities’, and has worked with agencies on implementation of a human rights approach to international development cooperation.
For over twenty years he held senior leadership positions in Amnesty International in New Zealand, Australia, and at the international level, with responsibilities for human rights promotion, campaigning and organisational development. He was a member of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Council for the national Action Plan for Human Rights, and is Chair of Wilford School Board of Trustees. He is a Life Member of the Foundation.
Maithili Sreen is a Law Hons and Arts graduate from the University of Auckland, and Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, admitted September 2013. She has been working in Refugee and Immigration Law since 2012, when I started as an intern with (committee member) Deborah Manning. She now works as a junior Barrister with Deborah in Landmark Chambers.
Maithili is passionate about refugee law and aims to expand my scope into criminal and family law. She is also a member of the Rotaract Club of Pakuranga (District 9920).
David Tong | email@example.com
From 2014-2015, he was a community lawyer at the Auckland Community Law Centre. He has an LLM with first class honours in climate and human rights law.
Previously, he worked as a litigation solicitor at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts from 2011 until June 2013. He worked from 2009-2010 as a judges’ clerk at the Auckland High Court.
David is on the boards of several other New Zealand charities and non-profit organisations. He is a board member of Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand and chair of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education Limited. He co-founded the New Zealand Climate Action Network, the Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association, and the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute.
Geraldine Whiteford is a lawyer specialising in family, civil and employment litigation. She became a lawyer in her early 50s, after working many years in the Human Rights Commission’s complaints resolution team. She has worked as a volunteer in a wide range of community groups including in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
Geraldine has a deep interest and involvement in women’s issues and is currently a Trustee of Auckland Sexual Abuse HELP.
Aotearoa’s most famous refugee Ahmed Zaoui was elected to the management committee of the HRF at its recent AGM in February. He spent the first 30 years of his life in his home country of Algeria where as one of ten children he grew up in the small town of El Idrissia until the family moved to Medea, a provincial capital. Ahmed graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985 and became an imam (spiritual leader) like his father and associate professor of theology at the University of Algiers.
It was not until 1988 that the situation in Algeria deteriorated with the National Liberation Front removing presidential term limits and establishing a tyrannical secret service. Ahmed Zaoui won a seat in the 1991 elections as a candidate for the Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut or FIS) but the government annulled the election results after the first round showed that the FIS would win. In 1993 he and his family fled to Europe as he was tried and convicted in absentia by the Algerian government for “establishing a terrorist organisation to destabilise state institutions and terrorise the population” and for “plotting against the state, criminal conspiracy, inciting armed rebellion and assassinations and destruction of property”. That was the beginning of his odyssey through Europe (first Belgium, then Switzerland,1995), Africa (Burkina Faso, 1998) and Asia (Malaysia, 2000) before reaching New Zealand in December 2002.
The problem was the lack of the immigration and refugee authorities in many countries to distinguish between the letters “F” and “G”, most believing that Ahmed was a member of the GIA (Groupement Islamique Armée), an armed terrorist organisation. That same misunderstanding arose again upon arrival in New Zealand where he was questioned by an inexperienced customs official at Auckland Airport after travelling for 48 hours and spending half a day at the airport without the presence of an interpreter, a misinterpretation that continued in the following investigations when the authorities and mainstream media bought into erroneous convictions by courts in Belgium and France (France had convicted him in absentia in 2001 for “participation in a criminal group with a view to preparing terrorist acts”).
After imprisonment initially in Paremoremo and then the Auckland remand prison Ahmed did not receive bail until December 2004. It took almost another three years – September 2007 – before his name was cleared and the Security Risk Certificate was withdrawn, allowing his wife and four children to come and join him from Malaysia. The family lived for a time in Palmerston North and then moved to Auckland in 2012 where Ahmed now operates a kebab stall in the city. He received New Zealand citizenship in May 2014 and has been allowed to visit Algeria again in the meantime.
In the foreword to the book Ahmed Zaoui, as issued by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority New Zealand in August 2003, musician Don McGlashan summarises the case as follows:
“… [this document] exposes much of the negative media coverage and political grandstanding surrounding this case for what it is: a mix of fear, error and dis-information. It describes a man who has consistently believed in dialogue and the search for non-violent solutions – and has suffered immensely for those beliefs.”
If you want to give extra support to the Foundation, you can become a Life Member. The Life Membership Fee for individuals is $500 and for corporate bodies is $2,000.
You can use our online membership application form to become a Life Member.
Our current Life Members are:
- Margaret Bedggood
- Susan Elliott
- Kathy Ertel
- Oliver Hoffmann
- Peter Hosking
- Judith McMorland
- Deborah Manning
- Hayden Montgomerie
- Ced Simpson
- Blair Stewart
- Geraldine Whiteford
We sincerely appreciate their generous support.