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New Zealand's human rights record is under scrutiny at the United Nations and a cabinet minister has explained what "fair go" means in this country.

The UN Human Rights Council is holding its first annual review of all member states and Justice Minister Simon Power presented New Zealand's report overnight (NZT).

He said the Government acknowledged there were challenges to face.

"It's important to front up with our own situation so that we can credibly discuss the challenges facing other countries," Mr Power said after presenting the report.

"I appreciated the open and constructive manner New Zealand's human rights situation was discussed by the Human Rights Council."

The council today issued a summary of Mr Power's speech and the New Zealand report.

It said he told members the Government was committed to equal rights and equal opportunities for everyone.

"In New Zealand this is referred to as a 'fair go'," the council's summary said.

"A 'fair go' means that any person's future should be determined by their motivation, hard work and capabilities."

The council said New Zealand's report reviewed social, economic and cultural aspects and noted the Government expressed some concerns.

"Despite recent socio-economic improvements, disparities still persisted for Maori in education, health, employment, crime statistics and income," it said.

"The Government sought to remedy these inequalities even in the face of global economic problems, and throughout the public sector was committed to the achievement of Maori potential."

The council said Mr Power dealt with women's rights by saying that in recent years women had occupied the positions of prime minister, leader of the opposition, speaker of Parliament, chief justice, attorney-general and governor-general.

The council said recommendations raised by its members included public discussion over the status of the Treaty of Waitangi, ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People, continued dialogue between the Government and Maori about the Foreshore and Seabed Act and "further actions to fully understand the reasons for inequalities".

The council, made up of 37 representatives from member states, was due today to consider the human rights situation in Afghanistan.

- NZPA