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Social Wellbeing

What is policy issue arising?

Government data released each quarter continues to show marked socio-economic disparities presenting between Māori and other New Zealanders.

 

What is background context?

Government data released each quarter continues to show marked socio-economic disparities presenting between Māori and other New Zealanders. Statistics New Zealand and Ministry of Social Development datasets reconfirm proportionally lower Māori levels of workforce engagement than others, lower Māori employment levels than others, and that proportionally more Māori are in receipt of welfare. Key statistics are that:

  • circa 100,000 Māori (aged 18-64 years) and their household whānau are welfare reliant – this is about 27% of working age Māori adults; and

  • circa 12% of Māori in the labour force are unemployed, (40,000 people). By comparison the New Zealand overall unemployment rate is generally half this – at 6%.

(Figures are rounded, precise figures are provided within Pānui editions.)

Recently the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment also released a specific report on Māori engagement in the labour market. This report finds that Māori employment rates are closely linked to formal qualifications, in that Māori with tertiary education degrees reportedly have an employment rate of 86% – compared with only 42% for Māori without any formal qualifications. It also finds presently 60% of Māori employed (162,600 tangata) have no workplace qualifications.

In this context we further advise that Otago University has also released research reconfirming their estimates that 33% of tamariki Māori currently live in ‘poor households’ – i.e. circa 92,000 tamariki. The high number of Māori sole-parent households, and high welfare reliance – as opposed to wage earnings – are considered to be key contributors to household poverty.

 

Our Summary Policy Assessment

These statistics again highlight that education and qualifications matter for socio-economic wellbeing, and hence to change Māori employment and household income levels a prerequisite step must be an unrelenting focus on improving educational outcomes for Māori (including youth pre-workforce, and adults within the workforce). Further information and discussion is provided within the Pānui policy papers.