|Citizens and the law:
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Universal rights and New Zealanders:The
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The Department of Corrections manages ...
Holding the balance:
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New Zealand's Bill of Rights
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to which ...
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Citizens' Advice Bureau
and the law
All societies are based on rules, both written and unwritten. Though
rules can be annoying, they enable us to interact with other people
In some societies, the rules allow the strong to prey on the weak,
or those with power to treat outsiders as if they were less than human.
In New Zealand, we have written rules to protect against such situations.
New Zealand is often ranked among the top half-dozen countries in
the world in its respect for human rights.
We have rights that ensure a fair trial if accused of a crime, rights
to free speech, rights to privacy and to information, rights to fair
treatment from those who sell us products and services, and rights
to financial support from government when things are tough. This benefits
both our economy and our society.
But the rights we enjoy come with duties, too. The laws that protect
us also constrain our actions. We need to recognise that others also
have rights, which we should respect.
Unfortunately, there are those who decline, or find themselves unable,
to participate in such a rules-based society. In the past, we have
tended to respond to those who commit crimes with punishment. This
has not tended to deter further transgression.
The emphasis now is on reducing crime by rehabilitation of offenders,
and – more importantly – prevention. In the last few years
there have been encouraging moves towards a co-ordinated approach
in which agencies work together to help young people find a constructive
place in society. Other agencies, such as those fostering rights,
try to prevent people from becoming alienated from society.
Still others focus on developing, through citizenship education, an
informed and responsible body of citizens willing and able to discuss
and debate the Parliament, government and law of their country (and
indeed of the international community).
Citizenship education also seeks the creation of a strong civil society,
the promotion of certain widely respected values, better cross-cultural
relationships, and even new political structures.
Understanding the link between citizenship and law is helped by the
aims and achievement objectives of the New Zealand social studies
curriculum. In studying social organisation, students are taught to
demonstrate knowledge of
- how participation within groups involves both responsibilities
- how and why people make and implement rules and laws
- how and why people seek to gain and maintain social justice and
- how and why people seek to safeguard the rights of consumers.
The United Nations is a source of suggested rules, many of which New
Zealand adopts, through Parliament and government actions, as its own.
Law within and between nations can assist people to maintain social justice,
advance their rights, and participate in the society, economy and political
How the law works seeks to give readers a broad understanding of how laws
affects our society, how the legal system works, the rights we enjoy,
how to get help with rights and the law, and how we deal with those who
break the rules. It contains briefings from some of the key agencies involved.
Find out more!
Centre for Citizenship Education
Box 3978, Wellington
Mobile: 027 242 2301
ideal is a society in which all citizens uphold the rights of all others.
Meanwhile, the courts provide one forum for those who seek to have their