Back to top anchor
Guest lecture

Housing in New Zealand: private assets with public consequences

Event series: 

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman

University of Otago

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman is a Director of He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme and the proposed Centre for Urban Housing and Development at the University of Otago (Wellington), where she teaches graduate students in public policy. She trained as a clinical psychologist before undertaking a number of community-based trials on the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, in partnership with local communities. This research has helped to inform policy development in health, housing and energy policy.

She has been a member of the EU Network to Develop Policies to Reduce Inequalities in Health and the Board of the International Society for Equity in Health. She is currently a member of the WHO Network on Urban Settlements and WHO (Europe) Housing Group determining the burden of disease attributable to housing, as well as many national committees. Apart from New Zealand, she has worked in the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia and the Netherlands. She has authored over 100 chapters and articles.


Community-based trials of insulation, crowding and heating have helped to establish that New Zealand houses are cold and damp and that improving them has demonstrable benefits. Economic analyses have shown that our low housing standards have public as well as private consequences due to increased health care utilisation, energy use, emissions and peak electricity demand. The case is made that improving housing is a classic public policy problem: there are multiple benefits across different sectors, but no one agency wants to bear the costs of improvements. Concerted remedial policy action is needed.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 22 November 2007