The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation which advocates to promote human rights and maintain civil liberties. The Council works through education and advocacy to promote a rights-based society and prevent the erosion of civil liberties by government or any other parties. Our activities include:

  • Reviewing draft legislation to ensure there is no interference with individual rights.
  • Reviewing policies and practices of government agencies and public services to ensure there is no restriction on individual rights and freedoms.
  • Examining the record of New Zealand in meeting international human rights obligations
  • Advocating on behalf of individuals and organisations whose civil liberties have been denied.
  • Working with other groups to develop and promote policies that support civil liberties.
  • Making submissions and public statements on civil liberties issues.

NZCCL was formed in 1952 as a direct result of the Police Offences Amendment Bill which was introduced into Parliament after the 1951 waterfront lockout. Since that time it has been led by many prominent political and public figures, and has been at the forefront of debates ranging from censorship to overstayers, from police pursuits to tasers, and from the SIS to surveillance cameras.

You can also read The Founding and Early History of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties, the transcript of a presentation giving by Lindsay Ferguson at the NZCCL AGM in 2021.


Read our constitution (pdf).

How we make policy decisions

Read our policy process (pdf) and associated responsibilities.

About this website

NZCCL relies on the voluntary involvement of dedicated people, and its work is limited to the time and energy of its members and others concerned about civil liberties. This website reports on what the council is doing and gives you an opportunity to become involved. Your involvement can take a number of forms:

  • Donation or membership subscription
  • Informing NZCCL of civil liberties issues
  • Letting NZCCL know of other organisations working to protect civil liberties
  • Discussing topical issues through the chat pages
  • Reading reports and legislation and writing submissions
  • Becoming a civil liberties advocate for a particular issue or area