The Race Relations Commissioner says inequality is still the most pressing race relations issue facing New Zealand.
Joris de Bres says New Zealand must continue efforts to address the "appalling" rate of Maori youth unemployment and recognise the need to keep people in work.
Mr de Bres told Radio New Zealand's Sunday Morning programme there is a lack of understanding that it is fair to deal specifically with people who suffer unfairness.
He says his office gets a lot of feedback citing the need for no special treatment for Maori and it makes sense to target funding to where it is most needed.
However, governments are reluctant to call it targeting, because that sparks resentment.
The issue will feature the commissioner's annual report to Parliament in March.