National | Employment

Ask for pay rises, expert says, as Māori unemployment rate at record low

Māori unemployment is at a record low dropping down to 5.4 percent from almost 8 percent last year - the lowest it has been since modern records began in 1986.

Among Māori men, the rate fell to 5.3 percent, down from 7.5 percent. Among Māori women, the figure went from 8 percent down to 5.6 percent.

AUT Business School Professor Jarrod Haar (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Mahuta) says it’s a pleasant surprise to see “such a winning statistic”, despite Māori unemployment being 190% higher than New Zealand Europeans.

“It’s normally 250% plus so there is some kind of cause for celebration in there for me.”

Haar says apprenticeship schemes run by the government, such as Mana in Mahi, have played an important role in keeping the Māori unemployment numbers down.

“To me, it illustrates for governments to benefit Māori in employment, they’ve got to be hands-on and provide funding and resources, and encourage that system to improve.


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'Secure that promotion'

“I really do hope, irrespective of whoever’s in government for the next 10 years that we have this kind of support continue for Māori.”

Haar thinks that the peak of Māori unemployment has been reached for now.

“History tells us that this a record low, and it may well be another decade or so before we get down here.

“I think if you’re a Māori employee, now is the time to take advantage in the workplace and try to secure that promotion or extra pay rise. Next year it probably will  have passed.”

In his Wellbeing at Work study, where Haar tracked the New Zealand workforce over the last few years, Haar notes that what was once divergence between Māori and Pākehā is now similar.

“The only difference is that Māori see the job opportunities as greater opportunities for them than Pākehā. But they have the same level of turnover, thoughts, job satisfaction and job security.

“I think this is quite a unique time to be a Māori worker.”