Rights across different treaties

We all have basic human rights, like the right to life, freedom and safety from harm, and some people have special rights. Internationally, the United Nations has special rights specifically for children, women, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and minority groups. These treaties are connected to each other to make sure that all people, regardless of their background can experience the benefits of having rights.

Our job is to promote all the rights of mokopuna, advocate for their protection, and make sure everyone in Aotearoa knows why they are important. We also monitor how well Aotearoa upholds the rights of all mokopuna.

We have a special focus on Te Tiriti and the Children’s Convention. These rights sit alongside different kinds of rights that come from whakapapa, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and other United Nations treaties for indigenous and disabled mokopuna.


Within Te Ao Māori (The Māori world), understandings of rights are based around valuing and respecting the mana of people and their tūpuna (ancestors) through the recognition of the whanaungatanga (kinship) we all share through our whakapapa to the creation of the universe. These understandings come from long before Pākehā arrived, are recognised through whakapapa, Tikanga Māori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Te Tiriti

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the founding rights document and the template for partnership and unity for Aotearoa New Zealand. It outlines the way in which Māori (as Tangata Whenua) and the Crown (as Manuhiri) live together in this country. The United Nations treaties such as the Children’s Convention add rights to the existing rights found in both Te Tiriti and which come from whakapapa.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

In 1993, Aotearoa New Zealand ratified the Children’s Convention, a set of rights specifically for under 18 year olds. It outlines the special rights held by children across the world designed to ensure a good life.

These rights cover health, education, culture, wellbeing and a healthy, loving family.

We have a mandate to raise awareness and understanding about the rights children have. We also monitor how well the Government is protects the rights of children. We work with organisations in the Convention Monitoring Group, and report how well Aotearoa New Zealand is doing every five years.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of indigenous People

Mokopuna Māori, as indigenous people of Aotearoa, have special rights outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

While some rights can be seen in the context of an individual, often rights are shared by groups and cultures. For example, it outlines that each indigenous person has the right to be free and equal, and must be free from any discrimination based on their identity. It also guarantees the right to strong indigenous political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions that are separate from the state.

It recognises the importance of culture and damage of assimilation, so it protects the rights of all indigenous people to be part of indigenous communities that are according to traditions and customs of those indigenous communities.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

In 2006, the United Nations agreed to a convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. These are special rights outlined to ensure every disabled person is able to live a good and fulfilling life free from obstacles and barriers.

Some are individual rights, and many are systemic rights to accessing every part of society. For example, disabled people have the right for all services to be developed with good access for them in mind. This can mean having accessible public transport or bathrooms, or to the court system.

Mokopuna with a disability should have a world which does not make life harder for them based on how they experience or interact with the world.