New Zealand Human Rights Commission launches inquiry into national housing crisis
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New Zealand Human Rights Commission launches inquiry into national housing crisis

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission announced Sunday that it will hold a national inquiry into the country’s housing crisis. The Commission also released a framework that gives 21 guidelines on the right to a decent home in New Zealand. The Commission will use the framework in a national inquiry into the right to a decent home under § 5(2) of the Human Rights Act.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt described the New Zealand housing crisis as having a “punishing impact” on marginalized communities and leaving many people homeless. Among all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, New Zealand recorded the greatest increase in property prices–30 percent in the past 12 months, which has locked out first home buyers and low-income earners from entering the property market. At the same time, New Zealand also currently has the lowest number of houses available for sale in 14 years according to a July 2021 market report.

Hunt described New Zealand’s human rights crisis as a “massive human rights failure,” adding:

New Zealand governments have signed up to a critically important human right: the right to a decent home. For generations, they have promised to create the conditions to enable everyone to live in a decent home, but this has not happened. Successive governments have failed New Zealanders. … The inquiry will engage with communities and officials and make findings, as well as constructive recommendations. … Based on the Guidelines, the inquiry will help ensure the government keeps its promises to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Hunt further explained that an important purpose of the guidelines is to clarify for central and local government as well as individuals, communities, and iwi, what the right to a decent home means in New Zealand. The guidelines were developed in partnership with the National Iwi Chairs Forum, which has a specific responsibility to ensure the well-being and prosperity derived from Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which forms the underlying foundations of the relationship indigenous Maori have with the Crown.

The framework itself notes that its guidelines are simply a step toward a better understanding of the right to a decent home grounded on Te Tiriti and that other organizations may work on other more elaborate projects.