A new report by Tokona Te Raki, (Maori Futures Collective) shows that Maori do not have equity with other workers in New Zealand. Equity means fairness rather than equality.
At the moment, a Maori worker, on average, earns $140 less per week than the average New Zealand worker even when they work the same number of hours. Part of the reason is that half of Maori workers are in lower skilled jobs. Over one third of Maori of working age have no qualifications. About 38% of New Zealand workers are employed in highly skilled occupations which bring higher salaries. The figure for Maori workers is 27%. Only 1% of Maori are in jobs where computer or mathematical skills are required.
What are the effects of these differences? Poor income often leads to poor health. Fewer Maori own their own home – 37% Maori compared to 52% of the whole population. Low parents’ income can affect opportunities for children gaining further education.
The future looks worse for those in low skilled jobs which will affect many Maori. Automation will likely take over jobs in manufacturing and office work.
It is important for the country to improve the equity for Maori. For one reason, the average age of Maori is 28, 10 years lower than that of all New Zealanders. A strong work force of young people is needed to support the ageing population.
The report suggests changes in our education system to support Maori, and opportunities for re-training for those in low skilled jobs.
The future for Maori does not have to be the same as that of Pakeha but must allow Maori to reach their potential where they can succeed as Maori. The economy would benefit from higher pay for all and from more tax. We all benefit from a more equal society where we have fewer social problems.
• Pakeha – non-Maori, usually refers to European New Zealanders
• potential – the best that is possible for someone
Spelling: note the e in ageing is necessary for the hard j sound