The red zoning of earthquake-damaged land in Christchurch shows that property rights need better protection, a report says.
The Human Rights Commission's report looked at the experience of people who turned down the government's offer to buy properties in red zoned areas.
The report said the government buy-out offers left people with few options.
Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford said many people believed domestic laws were strong enough to protect property rights, however the executive branch of the government had the power to override those laws, and did so in this case.
"We need to clarify that property rights are human rights and that needs to be in the Bill of Rights so people are in no doubt that the government cannot take your home without due process.
"Because that is the sort of choice that many people thought they were being faced with."
Gerry Brownlee, the minister in charge of the Christchurch rebuild, said the report denied the reality of what was being dealt with at the time.
He said people in the areas worst affected by the earthquakes were appealing to the government to do something as soon as possible.
"When you talk about human rights, it was the condition and circumstances that individuals - humans in our community - found themselves in that drove all the decisions that were made at that time.
Mr Brownlee said the buy-out offer was voluntary because the government respected property rights.