A 'decent home' provides access to core services

Access to core services refers to essential services, facilities and infrastructure people need in their homes for a decent standard of living.

As one of the United Nations decency housing principles, “Housing must ensure facilities essential for health, security, and comfort, including for Aotearoa’s rural and remote communities. For example, residents should have access to safe drinking water, sanitation and washing facilities, refuse disposal and emergency services, and energy for heating, lighting, and cooking.”

In our indicators we have looked at services of internet access, electricity and drinking water, and facilities of cooking facilities, a kitchen sink, a refrigerator, bath or shower, and a toilet from Census data.

Our indicators show that in Aotearoa access is generally widespread, but not universal, and progress is still needed to deliver access equitably.

Access to the internet has improved since 2013 but energy hardship has worsened. Overall, this dimension of the right to a decent home is not being met.

Indicator 1: access to basic amenities

The data shows that in 2018 99 percent of households had access to a kitchen sink, a bath or shower and a toilet, while 98 percent had access to electricity. Access was slightly slower for refrigerators and tap water that is safe to drink with only 97 percent of households having access.  

The data only covers those in private dwellings and so true levels of access may be lower. Access to basic amenities was collected for the first time in the 2018 census so more data is needed before we can measure progress over time. 

In all regions a minimum of 89 percent of people had access to all seven basic amenities but this varied from 89 percent on the West Coast to 95 percent in Wellington.  


Pacific peoples and renters experience lower levels of access than the national average with only 86 percent of Pacific Peoples and 87 percent of renters having access to all seven basic amenities. 


Indicator 2: No heating used 

Since 1991 the proportion of households not using heating has grown from 1.3 percent in 1991 to 3.9 percent in 2018. The increase has disproportionately affected renters, in the 2018 Census 8.3 percent of renting households didn’t use any heating in their home compared to 1.8 percent of owner occupying households.  

Indicator 3: Internet and phone access 

The internet has become an important part of how people interact with and function with society, with access often needed for basic things like paying bills and participating in work or education.  

Internet access has improved since 2006, 86 percent of New Zealanders had access to the internet in 2018 and 92 percent had access to a cell phone. The gap has narrowed since 2013 but renters are still less likely to have internet access than those who live in an owner-occupied home.  

While access to landlines has reduced this doesn’t represent a decline in progressive realisation as it has been offset by a rise in access to cellphones. As many people access the internet through a cellular device this may have also contributed to the improvement in access to the internet. 


Read the full commentary here