Community and inclusion
New Zealand prides itself on its achievements in recognising the interests of all, from women's suffrage to marriage equality. But the struggle for fair treatment, recognition and inclusion by marginalised groups continues. In recent years, these struggles have overlapped with debates around the limits – and responsibilities – of free expression.
People with disabilities face unique barriers to inclusion in society. The government recently removed a law that limited payments to people who provide care to relatives with disabilities, but the provision of adequate resources for everyone to participate in the community is an ongoing issue.
The largest Pacific nation, New Zealand is home to diverse communities from across the region. As the impacts of climate change increase in frequency and intensity, NZ's responsibilities to its neighbours and Pasifika communities at home are becoming more pressing.
The schools climate strike marked a recent highpoint for youth political action, as young people across the world took to the streets to demand climate action. The events highlighted the fact that young people are affected by government action as much as any adult – even though they lack political representation.
Care and support workers won historic pay equity settlement in 2017, paving the way for workers in other female-dominated industries to achieve equitable pay. But implementation of pay equity remains controversial, as does parliament's decision to decriminalise abortion earlier this year.
With much of NZ's export sector relying on the use of animals for meat and dairy products, few parties have policies on animal welfare. Rising interest in veganism and vegetarian fake meat products have sparked debate about the future of farming animals.
As NZ's population ages, the challenge of housing and caring for older people grows. Recent incidents of seniors being poorly cared for or abused by care providers have undermined trust in the system.
After same-sex marriage became law, political controversy has increasingly shifted to trans rights. An attempt to extend laws against discrimination to cover gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics failed in the last parliament. The rainbow community still faces challenges others don’t, including high rates of suicide.
Free expression and hate speech
Contest over the rights and responsibilities of speech has become controversial in recent years, with social justice movements seeking to deplatform speakers and boycott events considered problematic. Recently, debate has flared up over what to do with statues and other public symbols celebrating colonial governments.