New Zealand appoints new Disability Rights Commissioner

Mark Mitchell

Wellington, June 20, 2017

Disability advocate and former Paralympian Paula Tesoriero has been appointed as the Human Rights Commission’s next Disability Rights Commissioner, announced today.

The position of Disabilities Rights Commissioner was created by an amendment to the Human Rights Act 1993 passed last year. Ms Tesoriero replaces Paul Gibson, who was the first Human Rights Commissioner with a formal responsibility for disability issues.

Ms Tesoriero has a significant record of working to increase awareness of disability issues. She is well informed on New Zealand’s international human rights standing and her legal background and understanding of the machinery of government will be advantageous in the context of the Commission’s work.

I also want to acknowledge and thank Paul Gibson for his service and advocacy in this role.

Since February 2016 Ms Tesoriero has been General Manager, Systems and Partnerships with Statistics New Zealand. From 2010 to 2016 she was General Manager Higher Courts with the Ministry of Justice.

Ms Tesoriero created history with her world record-breaking time in the women’s 500m cycling time trial at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008, securing New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Games. Her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.

Ms Tesoriero also has a high profile in the disability sector, where she served as Deputy Chair of the NZ Artificial Limb Service and a Board member of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. She holds an LLB, BA, and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management qualifications.

Ms Tesoriero will take up her three-year appointment on July 31.


The Human Rights Commission is an independent Crown entity that works with Government and civil society to promote respect for human rights, encourage harmonious race relations and equal employment opportunities, and to resolve complaints about discrimination and related issues.

Mark Mitchell is Associate Justice Minister of New Zealand.

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