over the last ten years, and particularly when helen clark was prime minister, we regularly had the list of women in nz who holding the top-most positions of power. most of you will be familiar with it: woman prime minister, woman speaker of the house (margaret wilson), woman chief justice (sian elias), woman heading one of our largest corporations (teresa gattung), woman governor-general (sylvia cartwright).
one of the women who was rarely mentioned was our rosslyn noonan, our chief human rights commissioner. she has headed the human rights commission for ten years, and has done some marvellous work over that time. the HRC has not only been a strong advocate under her leadership, but she has delivered on her vision to take human rights out of lawyers' offices and into the community.
i've know rosslyn for some years, not very closely but certainly enough to know what a strong, generous and compassionate woman she is. she has spent her life advocating for human rights in various roles, and last year she was elected chairwoman of the ICC (International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights).
here's a brief bio i found online:
Rosslyn Noonan is New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner. She has an MA (Hons. 1st) in history from The University of Auckland and is the author of the centennial history of the New Zealand Ministry of Public Works. She has been a university lecturer, a trade union official and a Wellington City councillor. She has also worked internationally. Much of her career has been in the education sector as General Secretary of the Kindergarten Teachers’ Association (1976-1981); National Secretary of NZEI Te Riu Roa (1988-1996) and as Coordinator of Trade Union and Human Rights for Education International (1996-2001).
Rosslyn has been actively involved in the women’s movement and the anti-racism movement in New Zealand.
rosslyn's term as the chief human rights commissioner ended on 31 may 2011. she is continuing on for the present because the government hasn't managed to organise a replacement for her. indeed, it will be extremely difficult to find someone of her calibre, and it bothers me that this present government might choose someone who isn't willing to be such a strong advocate.
be that as it may, here is a powerful nz woman who deserves much more recognition than she gets. and i know that it's a great loss to the country to no longer have her working in this role.