Pasifikas’ contribution to society not fully recognised

Pasifikas' contribution

The full extent of Pasifikas’ contribution to society and the economy is not fully recognised because of how unpaid work is defined, Dr Seini Taufa says.

Taufa is the researcher for Moana Research and Evaluation.

A Treasury report has found Pasifika do up to 30 hours of unpaid work per week, including about 27,000 hours per week of organised volunteer work for community and church organisations.

But the research suggests that this figure is much lower than the actual number.

Taufa says the definition is important because the true extent of Pasifikas’ contribution is unlikely to be captured if researchers or Census forms ask about hours spent on unpaid work or volunteering.

In her research, she has found a stark difference between how Pasifika see unpaid work in the home compared to how other cultures in New Zealand might.

For many Pasifika serving their communities is a natural calling and not something they would list on official documents.

“In our Pacific communities, unpaid work or the term unpaid work can sometimes be seen as offensive,” Taufa says.

“Because when you associate acts of service to work, there’s an assumption that the person who’s doing the work wants something in return.

I think that there are a lot of other people who do unpaid work, who are not counted.”

Some Pasifika families, nominate one person to stay at home to look after elders, young children or disabled family members.

Taufa believes the contribution that this person makes is immense as it allows everyone else within the house to go to work.

Still, from a New Zealand western perspective, that person is seen as unemployed.

“Without that contribution, the rest of the family wouldn’t be able to do what they’re doing.

So, they become almost like the glue that keeps the family together.”


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