17 Feb 2022

Government launches Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori strategy

2:16 pm on 17 February 2022

The government has launched a strategy aimed at getting more Māori into jobs, education and training.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni speaks about the Reactivating Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland package.

Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

It involves a series of medium- and long-term goals, which Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says will ensure Māori have the skills and knowledge to both lead and excel.

The plan - called Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori - involves a range of targets and strategies which involve empowering iwi and hapū to create more high-skilled jobs for whānau.

Ultimately, Sepuloni said it would involve training more rangatahi, as well as tackling disparities and discrimination in existing workplaces.

"This really is about addressing those persistent gaps that have existed," she told a Zoom hui on Thursday.

"At the moment [the] unemployment rate for New Zealand is 3.2 percent, the lowest since 1986, but it's seven percent for Māori. Pay disparities, they continue to exist. All of those are things we are looking to address."

Sepuloni described it as a plan underpinned by three pou.

The first would be to ensure Māori - rangatahi and pakeke - can get the skills and knowledge they need. Second would see moves to create better conditions for kaimahi, and workplaces that are free of discrimination. The third would be to empower iwi, hapū and other Māori, she said.

Māori development minister Willie Jackson said it was a vital plan for all New Zealand.

With the Māori labour force growing five times faster than that of non-Māori, improving the situation for Māori was vital to the growth of the national economy.

"We've got a young Māori population, Māori making up a much bigger part of our economy. We know that there are over 10,000 economically significant Māori-owned businesses, and the Māori asset base is approaching 70 billion [dollars] and has grown about 10 percent a year for the past decade, much faster than the overall economy," Jackson told the same hui.

The challenge, he said, was getting that to flow to the coalface, so it could improve the lives of whānau.

"That remains a challenge for us," Jackson said. Māori employed three times as many Māori as non-Māori employers, he said.

"We have to be courageous, we have to look at different ways."

Also on Thursday, Sepuloni celebrated a milestone of 10,000 Māori being supported into jobs through the Mana in Mahi, He Poutama Rangatahi, Apprenticeship Boost, Māori Trades and Training, and Flexi-Wage schemes.

Rangatahi jobs milestone

He Poutama Rangatahi alone had supported 3133 rangatahi into employment, education and training since 2018, she said.

An extra $14.2m in funding would be added to the programme through 11 community providers to help get 967 more rangatahi into education, training and employment.

Māori had historically not been able to access the level of training and education that others had and the extra funding was aimed at addressing that, Sepuloni said.

"They've made it very clear that they want to have that kind of support so that they're uplifted to get into the kinds of jobs they want ... it's about being able to put food on the table, get into employment and have a happy life.

"Much of this has been informed by young people and I think that's been really important."

"We've heard the stories, we've seen the results, so we're investing in something that has proven to be effective."

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