A Muslim's toilet break on a grounded plane led to his being tagged a security risk, escorted from the aircraft and subjected to public humiliation.
The religious leader, a New Zealand resident identified only as Mr Adam, missed his flight and the overseas conference he was to address, despite having his passport cleared before the plane took off.
His case is highlighted in the report "10 Human Rights Cases that Made a Difference", released by the Human Rights Commission today. The report did not name the airline, but it is understood to be Freedom Air.
After Mr Adam laid a complaint, the airline "realised the gravity and harmful impact of their actions".
It replaced his ticket, provided financial compensation and a written apology, held staff training on cultural practices and reviewed how it dealt with security threats.
Mr Adam, dressed in religious attire, had planned to read religious texts on the flight and had gone to the toilet to perform ritual ablutions before takeoff. He spent about 10 minutes in the toilet.
Airline staff became suspicious, escorted him from the plane, checked his passport - he had dual citizenship and was not travelling on a New Zealand passport - and searched the toilet and aisle where he had sat.
Mr Adam was not allowed back on the flight because he had "upset the staff", but he was not told how he had done so.
The president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ, Javed Khan, said although Mr Adam agreed to the outcome, nothing could have made up for the public humiliation he suffered. He still felt ashamed.
The airline's behaviour was appalling and in line with what he would expect from authorities in America, where the terrorism threat was more visible, Mr Khan said.
"New Zealand is tolerant but from time to time these kinds of extreme measures are taken against Muslims."
Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said Mr Adam was treated poorly, and she praised the outcome.
"The parties acknowledged what happened and put in steps to make sure it didn't happen again. We can be proud of that, as people are pulled off planes in Britain or locked up for days in the US for no better reason than what occurred in this case.
"The cleric came forward and I give credit to the respondents for facing up to the issues, rather than just saying, 'That's what we have to expect in an environment fearful of terrorism'."
Discrimination of religious beliefs made up 3 per cent of complaints in the year to June.
Nearly a third were race-based and one in five related to disability.
Ms Noonan said complaints were just the "tip of the iceberg" and, in reality, human rights abuses were more pervasive.
The number of complaints involving illegal discrimination was 2058, up 11 per cent from last year.
Meaningful outcomes included:
* Workplace training on disability awareness and cultural accommodation.
* Acceptance of gay men in a sperm donor programme.
* Guidance for employers to help comply with the Human Rights Act.
* Cultural accommodation relating to dress codes in schools.
The report highlighted the success of the commission's resolution process, which changed in 2002 to focus on mediation. "Rather than respondents being defensive," Ms Noonan said, "mediation allows all the cards to be laid on the table, making a lasting outcome more likely."
Tomorrow is Human Rights Day.
* A Samoan woman laid a complaint after a real estate agent said his employer refused to let to Pacific Islanders. After mediation, he agreed to a substantial financial settlement.
* A Grey Power campaign resulted in more than 150 complaints of age discrimination, in response to the law that people over 80 had to sit practical driving tests every two years. The Government changed the requirement to having a medical certificate showing they are fit to drive.
* Numerous complaints were lodged after newspapers published the Mohammed cartoons, linking Islam to terrorism. A meeting was held between the Race Relations Commissioner, Muslim groups and members of the press. The Press and Dominion Post newspapers apologised for any offence caused and promised not to publish the cartoons again.By Derek Cheng Email Derek