Government launches Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori strategy

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The government has launched a strategy to give more Maori access to employment, education and training.

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

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

The plan – called Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori – includes a series of goals and strategies that involve empowering iwi and hapū to create more high-skilled jobs for whānau.

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

“It’s really about closing those persistent gaps that have existed,” she told Zoom Today on Thursday.

“Right now [the] The unemployment rate in New Zealand is 3.2%, the lowest since 1986, but it is 7% for Maori. Wage disparities continue to exist. These are all things we seek to resolve.”

Sepuloni described it as a plan supported by three louses.

The first would be to ensure that Maori – rangatahi and pakeke – can learn the skills and knowledge they need. Second, steps would be taken to create better conditions for kaimahi and workplaces free from discrimination. The third would be to empower iwi, hapū and other Maori, she said.

Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson said it was a vital plan for all of New Zealand.

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

“We have a young Maori population, with Maori making up a much larger part of our economy. We know there are over 10,000 economically significant Maori-owned businesses, and the Maori asset base is approaching 70 billion [dollars] and has grown about 10% a year for the past decade, much faster than the overall economy,” Jackson told The Same Today.

The challenge, he said, was to make it flow to the working face, so that it could improve the lives of the whānau.

“It remains a challenge for us,” Jackson said. Maori employed three times as many Maori as non-Maori employers, he said.

“We have to be brave, we have to consider different ways.”

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

Rangatahi Employment Milestone

He Poutama Rangatahi alone has supported 3,133 rangatahi in employment, education and training since 2018, she said.

An additional $14.2 million in funding would be added to the program through 11 community providers to help bring an additional 967 rangatahi into education, training and employment.

Maori had never 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 clear that they want this kind of support to be encouraged to get into the kinds of jobs they want…it’s about being able to put food on the table, find a job and have a happy life.

“A lot of that 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’s proven to work.”

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