Covered on this page:


The Human Rights Act 1993 defines racial harassment as uninvited behaviour that humiliates, offends or intimidates someone because of their race, colour, or ethnic or national origin.

Sexual harassment is unwanted, inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances and ranges from minor transgressions to sexual abuse or assault.

Under no circumstances should you have to put up with harassment of any kind. Sexual and racial harassment are both illegal and any behaviour that amounts to harassment may be considered misconduct and should be investigated by the school or employer. If anyone, including your teacher, boss or manager, is making you feel uncomfortable, there are steps you can take to address it and prevent it from getting worse.

The first approach, if you feel comfortable to do so, is to ask the person who is offending you to stop the behaviour. If it continues or you feel uncomfortable asking the offender to stop, talk to your teacher, principal or employer about the situation, or ask someone you trust to speak to them on your behalf.

If you tell your school or employer about the harassment they should take it seriously and provide a process to improve the situation. If they don’t, you can either raise a personal grievance or make a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. See below for more information on each process.

If it is your employer who is sexually, racially or generally harassing you, or if you cannot resolve the problem with them, there are two options for you to report the harassment. Only choose one, as you cannot do both. The two options are:

  • Personal grievance:
    • You will have 90 days to raise a personal grievance.
    • Check out Employment New Zealand for more information on this process.
  • Making a complaint under the Human Rights Act 1993:
    • You will have 12 months after the incident to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
    • To do so, see the Human Rights Commission website.

The Human Rights Commission also offers a free, confidential service for anyone complaining about discrimination, racial or sexual harassment. If you have questions, call them on 0800 496 7877.

Resources for racial harassment:

Resources for sexual harassment:


Bullying is when someone acts deliberately and repetitively in an emotionally or physically harmful or intimidating way to another person.

This includes name-calling, physical abuse, and/or sending abusive messages online, among other damaging behaviour. Bullying is not a normal part of life or growing up and often involves a misuse of power in a relationship.

Useful links:


Cyberbullying isn't always easy to recognise. It is often less obvious as it happens on devices and can be harder for others to be aware of it. Cyberbullying has the potential for harmful content to be shared quickly across many devices. It can happen at any time of the day or night. Below are some links to help you if you feel you are being bullied online.

Useful links:

Bullying at work

Bullying can also happen at work, which harms the worker and the organisation.

Workplace bullying is, according to WorkSafe: "Repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that can lead to psychological or physical harm".

All workers are protected by law from dismissal if they raise health and safety issues or concerns, which includes bullying. Check out the below links for more information and what you can do if you think you’re being bullied at work.

Useful links:

What can I do if I’m getting bullied?

Firstly, it’s important to remember if you're being bullied it's not your fault.

If you think you’re being bullied there are things you can do. Talking about it to someone trustworthy or contacting a confidential helpline such as Lifeline on 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) for help.

If you feel able to, you can ask the person to stop whatever it is they are doing. Limiting our immediate reactions to bullying behaviour reduces the power it has over us by not giving the bully the reaction they sought.

Whenever possible it’s best to walk away. Making sure you spend time with people who accept, respect and care for you is essential. If the bullying is online, take evidence and keep it to use when reporting the bullying.

Bullying behaviour can have seriously negative impacts on the way we think and feel about ourselves. Over time, and left unaddressed, negative thoughts and feelings provoked by bullying can become a real problem for our confidence and mental health. Sometimes it can be really hard to get back to feeling normal again. There are things we can do to help ourselves feel better and stay well. Check out the following links for ways to help yourself feel better and rebuild your confidence.

Useful links:

How can I help someone I think is being bullied?

If you think someone is being bullied, you can help in a few ways.

Start by asking the person being bullied if they are okay or if there is anything you can do to help. Consider bringing in another friend to support you to raise the issue or get advice from a trusted adult about what to do next.

Useful links:

Key websites

  • Bullying-Free NZ: An initiative of the Bullying Prevention Advisory Group whose mission it is to work together to prevent bullying in Aotearoa New Zealand, Bullying-Free NZ offers a wide range of resources for students, schools, parents and whānau to support those dealing with bullying.
  • InsideOUT: InsideOUT works to make Aotearoa New Zealand a safer place for young people of minority genders and sexualities.
  • The Lowdown: The Lowdown is a website to help young Aotearoa New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety. However you may be feeling, the Lowdown is full of ideas and people who can help you get unstuck and get to a better place.
  • Lifeline: Lifeline is Aotearoa New Zealand’s helpline for confidential support from qualified counsellors and trained volunteers. Call to talk to someone confidentially on 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).
  • Mental Health Foundation: The Mental Health Foundation is a New Zealand charity that supports people to stay mentally well. The Five Ways to Wellbeing on their site are key to maintaining health and wellbeing.
  • Employment New Zealand: Resolving Problems: Employment New Zealand’s Resolving Problems page features what employers must provide, types of problems you might encounter at work and advice on resolving and preventing these problems. Problems include bullying harassment and discrimination.
  • Human Rights Commission: The Human Rights Commission website reviews human rights that everyone should have and how to make a complaint if you think someone has violated yours. They also offer a free, confidential service for anyone complaining about discrimination, racial or sexual harassment. If you have questions, call them on 0800 496 7877.