Maori and Pacific income inequality continues

Income inequality continues to dominate among New Zealand’s Maori and Pacific populations, new research shows.

Waikato University demographer Dr Tahu Kukutai says that New Zealand is still wasting its “demographic dividend” of young Maori and Pacific people reaching working age, as investments in health and education fail to flow through into highly paid jobs.

Dr Kukutai’s data shows that Maori and Pacific incomes still show no trend towards catching up with higher-paid Europeans, and that Maori and Pacific people have lost relatively more jobs in the recent recession.

The youthful Maori and Pacific populations make up almost 27 per cent of New Zealanders aged 18 to 24, compared with only 17 per cent of the older working age group aged 25 to 64 – giving New Zealand a demographic “dividend” that other developed countries with rapidly ageing populations don’t have.

But 22.7 per cent of young Maori and 20.1 per cent of Pacific people aged 15 to 24 were not in employment, education or training (Neet) last year, compared with only 9.9 per cent of young Europeans and 5.7 per cent of young Asians.

Many others have gone to Australia. Despite offsetting immigration, last year’s Census revealed that New Zealand’s total population aged 25 to 39 dropped by 5 per cent between 2001 and 2013. The Maori population in that prime working age group dropped by 9 per cent.

“There is a lot of unrealised potential, a lot of waste,” Dr Kukutai says.

“The focus on closing the gaps tends to juxtapose groups in opposition to each other, but really what New Zealand has failed to grasp is that what’s good for Maori is good for the country and that it’s actually in the national interest that all those gaps that continue are remedied.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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