Aug 2, 2021 - World

New Zealand Human Rights Commission launches housing crisis investigation

 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Minister of Housing Megan Woods view inside the Flatbush Salvation Army Housing development on June 03, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Housing Minister Megan Woods view inside the Flatbush Salvation Army Housing development on June 3, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand, as they open two new public housing developments in June. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand's Human Rights Commission launched a national inquiry into the country's housing crisis.

Why it matters: While New Zealand is one of the world's wealthiest nations, it's an expensive place to live. Human Rights Commission chief Paul Hunt noted in a statement: "Successive governments have failed New Zealanders," resulting in a "massive human rights failure."

Driving the news: The number of homes available for sale is at a 14-year low, according to a July market report from

  • "There are now only 12,684 homes available to purchase across the country, down -34.8% compared to July 2020," the report stated.
  • The national average asking price "reached an all-time high at $893,794," the report notes.

What they're saying: "For many people, especially young people, the goal of an affordable, healthy, accessible home has actually become more remote. These serial governments bear a heavy responsibility for this massive human rights failure which is blighting lives and communities," Hunt said.

  • "The present government has made a promising start on housing, but it remains to be seen if it will do better than its predecessors and address New Zealand’s housing and human rights emergency.
  • "Based on the Guidelines, the inquiry will help ensure the government keeps its promises to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand," he added, referring to the country's duel name in Māori and English.

The big picture: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's ruling Labour Party was re-elected in a landslide last October on the strength of her government's pandemic response and pledge to fix the housing crisis, among other policies.

  • Labour's popularity has slipped 9.7 points to 43%, according to a Newshub-Reid Research Poll published Sunday night.
  • Ardern remains much more popular than her rivals, rating 48% as preferred prime minister as the country marks 154 days with no COVID-19 cases reported in the community.
  • The prime minister told TVNZ her government had granted more housing consents "than ever before." "When I look at the record of what we've done, 8,000 houses to date, 18,000 on the cards — we are scaling up as quickly as we can," she added.
Go deeper