Rainbow Rights Conference

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission is hosting a conference for Rainbow and Takatāpui communities on Rainbow rights in Aotearoa New Zealand.

About the project

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, the Human Rights Commission will host an in-person conference for Rainbow* and takatāpui communities including community leaders, advocates, human rights actors, and members of the Rainbow community.

Recent years have seen significant gains for the rights of Rainbow populations in Aotearoa New Zealand. Bringing together the advocates that made these wins possible, the Human Rights Commission is hosting this national conference to provide legal education, map out outstanding legal issues, and celebrate and evaluate collective progress.

Rainbow communities rarely have funded opportunities to be in person and work together. (Under)-resourcing is consistently named by community leaders and organisations as a significant barrier to achieving social and policy change. The conference will provide a much-needed space for rainbow advocates to meet, reflect, and plan for the future.

Through developing and delivering this conference, the Commission is seeking to bring people together, evaluate outstanding legal issues for takatāpui and rainbow communities through the lens of Te Tiriti, and build human rights knowledge and capacity.

While the focus is to provide an in-person event, there will be an online component to increase accessibility for those who may be unable to travel, only want to attend certain sessions, or who have financial needs.

The conference is anticipated to take place in March or April 2023 and is currently in the early planning stages in partnership with the Commission’s Indigenous rights team, Ahi Kaa. Further updates will be available from the Human Rights Commission.

*The term ‘rainbow’ includes people whose sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and/or sex characteristics differ from majority, binary norms. This includes people who identify with terms like takatāpui, lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, queer, non-binary or fa’afafine, as well as people who don’t use specific words for their identity.


Grant amount

The Borrin Foundation is providing $40,000 and the Human Rights Commission is matching this amount.


About the Human Rights Commission

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, the Human Rights Commission is New Zealand’s national human rights institute. Among its primary functions, the Commission has a broad mandate to advocate and promote respect for human rights under the Human Rights Act 1993. As an aspiring Tiriti-based and Tiriti-led organisation, the Commission acknowledges tino rangatiratanga as a form of authority alongside kāwanatanga.

Project manager Taine Polkinghorne is the Commission’s senior human rights advisor on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). His background includes a decade of volunteering with and for rainbow communities as an out and proud trans man. Taine authored the Commission’s ground-breaking 2020 Prism report which has been widely cited and influential in the sector. His skills and experience are in community engagement, youth development, and public health.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt is the project ‘sponsor’ at the board level of the Commission. A professor in international human rights law, Paul was the first UN Special Rapporteur on the highest attainable standard of health from 2002 – 2008. While in this role, he was a signatory to the 2007 Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

From the Commission’s Indigenous rights ‘Ahi Kaa’ team, Kaitahutahu Rangatahi/Human Rights Advisor Luke Wijohn (Tūhoe, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is a key part of this project. Ensuring Te Tiriti o Waitangi is upheld through kawa and tikanga, Luke has a role in bringing a tino rangatiratanga perspective to this kaupapa.

Additional staff from the Commission will coordinate and support the conference.



Taine Polkinghorne, the Commission’s senior human rights advisor on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.