The Government has closed applications for the position of Race Relations Commissioner after the role has remained vacant for more than nine months.
The process of appointing a new Commissioner, which was vacated by Susan Devoy in June last year, has been drawn out because of legal reasons.
But after the Christchurch terror attacks some – including the Auckland-based African Communities Forum – say it has taken too long for the role to be filled.
In July last year, Justice Minister Andrew Little appointed a three-member panel to select a new Race Relations Commissioner, Chief Human Rights Commissioner and Equal an Employment Opportunities Commissioner.
The positions of the latter two have since been filled, while Race Relations Commissioner has remained vacant.
After a legal challenge by an unsuccessful candidate for the job – who sued the Government over the selection process – the process of appointing a new Race Relations Commissioner was put on hold.
The panel later settled on a preferred candidate but that person withdrew their application in mid-November 2018, a spokeswoman for Little said.
She added that since it was late in the year, the panel decided to wait until the New Year to advertise again – which it did on March 2.
But, due to the terror attacks in Christchurch on March 15, the application deadline was extended to last Monday.
When her term expired, Devoy did not seek reappointment.
Fatumata Bah, who is a spokeswoman from the Auckland-based African Communities Forum, told Stuff it was not acceptable that a Race Relations Commissioner had not yet been appointed.
She said at a time like this in New Zealand, the role was vital – especially looking towards the future.
"The fact it's taken so long is disappointing and sad. The other commissioners who have left, they've been replaced; it says that race relations isn't important in New Zealand as the events on Friday would suggest," she said.
Devoy did not respond to request for comment.