Paul Goldsmith won't reappoint Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith has confirmed he won't be re-appointing Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt – so the hunt is on for a new one. 

Hunt's warrant for the role ends in January and Goldsmith confirmed on Friday morning that he wouldn't be re-appointing him to continue in the role past then.  

It comes after Goldsmith on Thursday refused to express confidence in Hunt and told Newshub that he would be making changes to the Human Rights Commission "in terms of the personnel". 

Goldsmith said on Friday the Government would be looking for a new Human Rights Commissioner as well as someone to fill the Race Relations Commissioner role, which he said was vacant following the resignation of Meng Foon earlier this year.  

According to the Ministry of Justice, Commissioners may hold office for a maximum term of five years but "from time to time be reappointed".

"The Crown Entities Act provides that, as a member of a statutory entity, a Human Rights Commissioner may be reappointed. However, neither the Human Rights Act nor the Crown Entities Act set a maximum number of terms that a Commissioner can serve.

"This means that the Minister may consider recommending that a Commissioner be reappointed for a second, or further, term of office if the Minister considers there are good reasons for doing so."

The ministry said there is no general expectation that Commissioners be reappointed.

The minister also said he didn't agree with the appointment of a new "shared leader" at the HRC.  

"What I certainly don't agree with is they have appointed a kind of dual-CEO. Right across the public service, if we suddenly start having dual CEOs, we will be in a terrible mess... not very impressed," Goldsmith told AM.  

Julia Whaipooti was this week appointed to the role of Tatau-Urutahi | shared leader at the Commission. The job is described by the commission as part of its work "fostering a treaty-based partnership" and working alongside Tatau-Uruora (shared leader/chief executive) Meg de Ronde.      

Hunt was unable to comment on Thursday, but a spokesperson for the HRC said it was an "independent, internationally accredited and recognised National Human Rights Institution that exists to protect and uphold the rights of everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand".   

It said it had disestablished a deputy role to "prioritise our new model of shared leadership, so there is no new funding required for this position".  

"The Commission has a statutory responsibility to promote, educate and protect the human rights dimension of te Tiriti o Waitangi. The shared leadership model represents exciting progress within the Commission to live up to this, and will enable us to fulfil our statutory role."  

Newshub has again contacted the HRC for comment on Friday.  

Hunt has been a controversial figure for the HRC.     

In 2021, he was criticised after attending a meeting organised by the Mongrel Mob's Waikato chapter, which at the time was attempting to reform. He said he had followed its "work with interest".   

After it was revealed the HRC donated $200 to the Mongrel Mob as a Koha - which Hunt said was in line with tikanga - there were calls for him to be sacked. He said that was "unfair and unkind".   

Hunt also met with Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki ahead of an anti-vaccine mandate demonstration at Parliament. He said he was open to listening to with "concerns about potential breaches of human rights", but it was criticised by ACT.