Departing human rights commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is calling on other staff to "take responsibility" and leave the troubled agency.

It was announced on Friday that Devoy and fellow commissioner Dr Jackie Blue would leave the Human Rights Commission after not seeking reappointment.

Devoy, a former squash great, will leave next month, after five years as Race Relations Commissioner.

The commission has been rocked by a critical review of its handling of a sexual harrassment compaint.

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Devoy now says she is "devastated" and deeply sorry the commission failed to protect, support and nurture its most important asset: its people.

The change in leadership follows a critical review of the commission's internal processes and culture by retired judge Coral Shaw.

The review was sparked by the commission's handling of a sexual harassment case, and concluded that misconduct was not prevalent at the commission.

But it also revealed dysfunctional leadership at the organisation and said the commissioners "barely communicated with each other".

There were "deep-seated personality clashes" among the commissioners, in particular between Devoy and Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford.

Following her decision not to run for another term, Devoy wrote an opinion piece for The Spinoff and urged other staff to "take responsibility, do the right thing and step aside".

"It's time to step back and reflect on what's happened and how we can make sure it never, ever happens again," she wrote.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue is not seeking reappointment after her term as a commissioner ends next month. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue is not seeking reappointment after her term as a commissioner ends next month. Photo / Sarah Ivey

"I hope that other boards and management groups read the ministerial review into the commission as there are things to learn from what our staff went through.

"I will be moving on as my term is up and one term was always my aim.

"I urge others who failed our staff to take responsibility, do the right thing and step aside so that rebuilding trust and confidence in the Human Rights Commission can begin."

In the The Spinoff article, Devoy said she was honoured to have worked with people who were brave enough to stand up, speak out and do the right thing.

"Usually I'm referring to people who speak out about racial abuse and discrimination in their everyday lives.

"But today I'm referring to the awesome staff I've been honoured to work with at the Human Rights Commission. I am incredibly proud of them for so many reasons," she said.

"The first is the stunning work they do. These are human rights champions who are the people behind our unforgettable, hard-hitting anti-racism campaigns.

"The advocates who put their own lives out there in the public eye to campaign for their right to live with dignity no matter who we are or what our ability is.

"They are the ones who relentlessly called for justice on behalf of thousands of children and vulnerable people tortured and abused in government homes.

"People who have seen a government announce a Royal Commission of Inquiry and the Rugby Union look at its own culture and start to change it.

"Staff who have taken on politicians from almost every political party, including the prime minister. People who have literally stood alongside our most marginalised New Zealanders and let them know: you're not alone and what's more, we will fight for you.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford took up the five-year appointment as Chief Human Rights Commissioner on September 1, 2011. Photo / Supplied
Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford took up the five-year appointment as Chief Human Rights Commissioner on September 1, 2011. Photo / Supplied

"They are also the people whose courage led to this month's Ministerial Report into the Human Rights Commission, their place of work. Justice Minister Andrew Little's leadership on this issue has been outstanding."

Devoy said she was devastated and deeply sorry the commission failed to protect, support and nurture its most important asset: its people.

"The things our people endured should never have happened in any organisation, let alone ours.

"Many no longer work at the commission but I would like to pay tribute to staff, past and present who I am proud to call my friends. They are walking the talk when it comes to human rights, and speaking truth to power.

"It's been a privilege and a great honour to serve as New Zealand's race relations commissioner for the past five years. Thanks to the team behind me, we've done incredible things."

She said she felt sad but proud, devastated but vindicated, but also hopeful things could only get better.

"Our Human Rights Commission remains staffed by many people who are human rights experts, visionaries and leaders. They remain our organisation's greatest treasure. Human rights begin at home."

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero has been appointed acting head of the Human Rights Commission.

She replaces Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford, who has also decided to leave his role.

She will hold the position until three new commissioners, including a chief commissioner, are appointed.