New Zealand
Head of state
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Jerry Mateparae
Head of government
John Key

The rights of asylum-seekers were at risk of being undermined by a new bill. Levels of child poverty continued to be high, disproportionately affecting Māori (Indigenous People) and Pacific Island peoples. Violence against women remained widespread, but the authorities failed to collect sufficient data on how such violence affected women, especially those from minority groups.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

A government-sponsored review of the country’s constitutional arrangements continued. The review was mandated to consider a range of constitutional issues, including whether there should be a written Constitution. By October 2012, the Constitutional Review Panel had met with 56 organizations; however, open public consultations had yet to occur by the end of the year.

In May, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern that such rights had yet to be incorporated into the Bill of Rights Act 1990. It also highlighted New Zealand’s failure to sufficiently protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their lands, territories, waters, maritime areas and other resources.

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Children’s rights

Child poverty remained high. An August study by the Ministry of Social Development identified up to 270,000 children as living in poverty, about 47% of whom were from Māori or Pacific Island peoples.

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Women’s rights

In July, the CEDAW Committee considered New Zealand’s periodic report and expressed concern at persistently high and increasing levels of violence against women. The Committee criticized New Zealand’s failure to collect sufficient statistical data on violence against women, especially against Māori women, migrant women and women with disabilities.

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Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

In August, the Marriage (Equality) Amendment Bill passed the first of three readings, with 80 votes for and 40 against. The bill sought to clarify the definition of marriage as contained in the 1955 Marriage Act. The new bill would allow marriage between two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill remained pending.

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Refugees and asylum-seekers

In April, the Immigration Amendment (Mass Arrivals) Bill was introduced to Parliament. The new bill allowed for indefinite detention of asylum-seekers arriving by boat in groups of more than 10 people, as well as limitations on family reunification and access to judicial review. The bill gave the authorities new powers to suspend the processing of asylum claims. The bill had not been passed by the end of the year.

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