Pacific women in New Zealand are rising to the top and smashing glass ceilings on their way up, a new report on Pacific women's wellbeing in Aotearoa says.
A survey by P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A Inc. looked at the views of 173 women aged 17 to 78 about their strengths, challenges and aspirations for the future.
Close to 50 percent of respondents said their income was between NZ$70,000 and NZ$180,000 per year.
"Pacific women are also always willing to 'send the elevator back down' to those making their way to the top," comments from a 31-year-old Tongan living in Porirua, took part in the anonymous online survey.
But despite the sparkly results, P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A Inc member Natalia Fareti said there was still "plenty of work to do".
"We are still also facing the largest ethnic pay gap in the country...We are right at the very bottom," Fareti said.
Figures show Pacific women, on average, earn 73 cents to every one dollar earned by Pakeha men.
The findings from Pacific Allied Women's Council recognised challenges such as equity gaps, the need for more Pacific resources and research.
This report acknowledged the uniqueness of New Zealand, in that it is the only Western country which also advocate for the voices of Pacific women.
Aspirations for the future included having safe spaces/platforms to share and learn, having an allocated seat at the decision-making table, collaborating with others and having greater access to mentoring, resources and funding.
Those who are confident in their identity, and who feel safe and secure in both Western and cultural settings, were more likely to feel resilient.
Seeing other Pacific women and girls in leadership roles and excelling in the sector made a difference.
There were calls for P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A to advocate for pay equity, to be a voice for Pacific communities, and to empower Pacific women and girls to continue to speak up and tell their own stories.
"We have an untapped power, resilience, the ability to wear so many hats both professionally and in family life," a 28-year-old Tahitian woman living in Auckland stated.
The report highlighted that identity often intensified when Pacific women navigate environments where they are the only Pacific person in the midst of others - more common within workplaces.
Fareti said intersectionality of "being Pacific, young and a woman can feel like a triple disadvantage".
It was revealed in October that Pacific women in the legal profession within New Zealand are three times more likely to face prejudice and inequity.
Pacific Lawyers Association president Arti Chand said "to shift the dial the Pacific legal community needs to have a real voice where it counts".
"Lack of proper representation of Pacific lawyers" is problem that goes beyond gender diversity and it was about "reflecting the community all lawyers serve," Chand said.
"We adapt to palangi society to be given chances that we lose parts of ourselves to fit in," a 37-year-old Samoan living in Te Tai Tokerau said in the survey.
Those from the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand where only 8.3 percent of the Pacific population live, shared having to work twice as hard, noting the ignorance of people (particularly in leadership roles) regarding views about Pacific peoples.
There are subtle systemic Western cultural micro-aggressive behaviours that we experience on a daily [basis] within Aotearoa, much like Māori women, a 29-year-old Fijian living in Christchurch said.
When asked 'What would you tell the Prime Minister and Minister for Pacific Peoples are the three most important issues for Pacific women and girls and our families?', close to 60 percent of comments in the survey mentioned pay equity and socio-economic inequities as the major issues challenging Pacific women.
The Ethnic and Gender Pay Gap between Pākehā men and Pacific women is at 27 percent, which will take 120-150 years at the current rate of progress to get to pay equity.
Family, friends and faith were found to be the main sources of strength and resilience in the face of challenges.
"Pacific women carry whole families, church and communities on their shoulders," Fareti said.
I consider our points of uniqueness are our family values, leadership, breaking barriers, supporters, our ability to work together and our capacity to laugh and love, a 60-year old Niuean in Christchurch said.
Seeing Pacific women succeeding across different disciplines was a motivation for the participants in the survey, Fareti said.
A need for more research across the board for Pacific by Pacific people was also a dominant theme.
"Pacific women in Aotearoa have a much greater presence now that we see more of us in senior positions in the public service, on boards, in parliament, in ministerial positions, the judiciary," a 39-year-old Samoan living in Wellington said.
"We are definitely breaking that glass ceiling. I hope that we no longer have to read stories that say 'the first Pacific woman to hold'...We also have a legacy to protect and carry on in the place we now call home."
Read the full report here.