Vanessa completed her Masters at the University of Auckland in 2014, exploring enclosure, displacement and resistance in Glen Innes, Tāmaki Makaurau. She particularly focussed on addressing how the discourses of developers and policy makers cover over displacement and gentrification, and how communities speak counter-hegemonic discourses through resistance. Vanessa is currently doing doctoral research exploring new possibilities in urban organisation and planning.
As an activist, Vanessa has been involved in organising and in solidarity with various groups. In particular, she has been an active supporter of the state housing struggle (Tāmaki Housing Group and Save Our Homes), and welfare and beneficiaries rights (as a volunteer for Auckland Action Against Poverty). Drawing on her activism and ongoing research on housing, Vanessa is facilitating the ESRA Housing Inquiry Group which is researching housing and urban issues.