Jenny Ombler

Jenny is a research fellow in the NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities who is now undertaking a PhD.

Jenny's thesis is looking at the role of human rights in relation to housing in Aotearoa NZ. The relationship between human rights and housing is interlinked with cultural norms and aspirations. In Aotearoa NZ, these norms and aspirations include Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the legacies of the settler-colonial project. Settler-colonialism in particular has shaped mainstream relationships with housing in terms of private property and capital gain; attitudes derived from the assumption of terra nullius; and particular types of relationship to neighbourhoods, commercial centres, environment and resources. Breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi have led to the entrenchment of mainstream housing norms, and the erosion of the enjoyment of Tiriti rights for Māori. In amongst this cultural context, the international human rights project has developed and embedded itself as a cornerstone of international politics.

The housing crisis has been a focus of politics and media over the past decade, however there has been only sporadic reference to human rights in amongst this considerable discourse. Notably, the Human Rights Commission has published Framework Guidelines on the Right to a Decent Home, aimed at providing government and community with the necessary understanding of the right to housing in Aotearoa in order to implement policies and practices leading to its realisation. The Waitangi Tribunal is currently undertaking a Kaupapa Inquiry on Housing Policy and Services, with the rights conferred by The Treaty of Waitangi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi as they relate to housing being central. A recent report released by The Royal Society on housing discusses the right to housing as a framework for fairness. The right to adequate housing has featured in reviews on Aotearoa NZ’s performance in various UN committees, including by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Jenny's thesis will develop a theoretical underpinning for the implementation of human rights in relation to housing in Aotearoa NZ, and will focus on the housing support system and homelessness policy.

Key publications