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Human Rights Commission welcomes first Pacific commissioner

By Ruci Farrell - ruci.farrell@pmn.co.nz

The Human Rights Commission has officially welcomed its first Pacific woman appointed a Commissioner.

A pōwhiri and ava ceremony was held yesterday to welcome the new Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner to the Human Rights Commission. Photo/ Facebook - Aych McArdle.


Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo takes on the role of Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner.

The Samoan-born academic and high chief says she understands the monumental challenges of addressing employment inequities especially for Pasifika and Māori. 

Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo. Photo/ HRC.


However, first on her list is to restore public confidence within the office of the Human Rights Commission which was subject to an inquiry early this year following reports of harassment and bullying between staff and management.

"The personal challenges for me would be to try and support the Human Rights Commission, they've come through a difficult period in recent times."

"As part of the commissioners board, I'm here to support and lend my voice. And also it's really important as a Pacific person, that we don't lose sight as a people, of the work of the Human Rights Commission."

As a union campaign lead organiser at E Tū, Fala Haulangi knows the issues ethnic minority groups can face in the workplace.

She says she's proud a Pasifika woman is at the helm and hopes the discrimination against Pasifika people in employment continue to be addressed.

"I have faith in her. I believe things will get better in terms of employing people to certain roles in the public and private sectors."

"It will be very good for our people to look at her and know there's somebody there to help them."

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