The Human Rights Commission will soon have a commissioner who is formally responsible for the rights of disabled people.
Parliament has passed a bill allowing the appointment and Justice Minister Amy Adams says it's a first for New Zealand.
Her bill also changes the governance arrangements, functions and powers of the commission.
"The old provisions in the Human Rights Act were too rigid," she said after the bill was passed unanimously on Thursday.
"New formal leadership positions couldn't be created ... the bill addresses that inflexibility by revising the commission's structure and giving it powers to address additional problems and issues as they emerge."