Government failing human rights promises for housing/health care and protection, research

Sep 27, 2021

A new paper from Motu Research shows successive New Zealand Governments have failed to keep human rights promises so all Kiwis can have the basic levels of housing and health care and protection in Aotearoa. The New Zealand Government has made these promises under international human rights treaties.

Since successive New Zealand Governments have not sufficiently prioritised human rights, the reality is tough for many people.

This paper helps to identify where resources are most urgently needed to ensure all Kiwis have the right to adequate housing — and the right to health care and protection.

Livvy Mitchell, Motu Research Analyst and lead paper author says “For housing, more people are becoming homeless in our country. And the number of people living in cold, damp and mouldy homes is growing. Housing is becoming more and more unaffordable.

“With Kiwis’ health, our physical and oral health care systems are not keeping up with the needs of Aotearoa’s children and adults. Rheumatic fever continues to be a big problem, as too is our high suicide rate. Relative poverty rates have not improved, and many people have poor nutrition because of food being so unaffordable — more and more people are having to give up daily meals.

“Our research shows evidence of discrimination in the rights to housing and health care in Aotearoa. Those least likely to enjoy good housing and health outcomes include Māori, Pacific Peoples, disabled people and people from more deprived areas,” says Mitchell.

Aotearoa has long-standing human rights issues. Discrimination against certain groups of people is a big part of the problem, and this report shows how that is happening in housing and health care and protection in Aotearoa.

“The Government needs to urgently improve its health and housing policies, so all Kiwis can enjoy the rights to adequate housing and health care and protection. Aotearoa needs Government policies that help prevent homelessness, help provide affordable, warm and dry homes, help eliminate child poverty, address our high suicide rates and ensure our health services can meet everyone’s needs,” says Mitchell.

This research was commissioned by the Human Rights Commission. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says “Successive governments have signed up to rights to housing, health care and protection. These human rights are expected to be progressively put in place over time – often referred to as progressive realisation.

“For the first time, this ground-breaking report sets out a way to measure the progressive realisation of the rights to housing, health care and protection, so governments can be held accountable to binding international human rights obligations. We congratulate Motu Research for helping Aotearoa take this important step in our human rights journey.”

Read the full working paper from Motu Research.

For more information, contact Emma Williams at  or +64 (0)21 837966.