Student heads to Global Refugee Conference

31 May 2016
Rez Gardi

Rez Gardi, an LLB Honours student from the Auckland Law School, has been selected to represent New Zealand at the Global Refugee Youth Consultations and annual UNHCR – NGO (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Non-Government Organisation) consultation in Geneva in June.

Of Kurdish ancestry, Rez was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan before resettling in New Zealand with her parents and older brother and sister at the age of six.

She has been recruited by the New Zealand Red Cross to be the Youth Adviser representative on its Humanitarian Services Team.  The role has two key elements, to be the New Zealand representative in Geneva at both the Global Refugee Youth Consultations and annual UNHCR – NGO consultation in June, and to assist the New Zealand Red Cross in its planning of co-chairing the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement in 2017.

Rez’s recruitment by the Red Cross includes full sponsorship to attend the Geneva Global Refugee Youth Consultations and annual UNHCR – NGO consultation.

As the selected Youth Representative, she will contribute to the debate about youth resettlement in New Zealand.  This will include information collated from around the country sourced by New Zealand refugee community focus groups, and research and youth forums. She also plans to tap into her own networks to gather information before attending the conference

The young advocate for refugee rights is completing her Law Honours dissertation on human rights violations against Kurds and the prospect of Kurdish statehood. She is in her final semester at the University of Auckland, completing a conjoint Bachelor of Law (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Political Studies and International Relations and Criminology.



Rez Gardi

Rez, who is also currently clerking at law firm Chapman Tripp, was recently selected as the University of Auckland’s Refugee Scholarship Ambassador. She has been involved with Refugees as Survivors, UN Youth, the Auckland Multicultural Society, the Equal Justice Project, and as a director and founder of the Kurdish Youth Association in New Zealand.

The twenty-four year-old Auckland-resident has previously worked as a human rights intern at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in Nairobi, where she was the youngest intern and first ever intern from New Zealand, and also as an assistant to the Deputy Chief of Protocol in the Protocol Department of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

She has also been selected to represent New Zealand youth at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen and the OECD Forum in Paris.

“Life as a refugee is turbulent and with the growing number of people fleeing conflict zones across the world, the issues have never been more pressing,” says Rez. “If I can use my own experiences as a refugee to help others, then that is what I want to do,” she says.

Rez’s goal is to eventually become New Zealand’s first Kurdish female international human rights lawyer, an objective she is well on the way to achieving.