Māori labour market trends

This page provides statistical and report-based information about Māori in the labour market and in business.

Māori labour market trends – June 2021

Māori in business

Our report, Māori in business – December 2014, provides an overview of Māori who run their own business (self-employed, either working alone or employing others). The report used data from the 2006 and 2013 Censuses of Population and Dwellings.

Māori in business - December 2014 [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Overall, the results suggest Māori workers are less likely to be self-employed than those in the total population. In part, this is due to certain demographic influences.

Māori are relatively younger, with lower qualification levels than other New Zealanders. These differences also partly reflect the industry and sector where most self-employed Māori operate.

Māori in the labour market report

Māori in the labour market 2012–2017 report gives an overview of Māori labour market performance over the past 5 years, looking at both trends over time and comparisons with other ethnicities.

It presents key labour market indicators for Māori between 2012 and 2017 using annualised data from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS).

The report also highlights significant labour market indicators for 8 iwi regions, which were defined using regional boundaries of rohe.

Māori in the labour market Monitoring Report 2017 [PDF, 2 MB]

Summary of findings

Māori have generally poorer labour market outcomes compared to the rest of New Zealanders.

In 2017, there were 303,400 Māori employed in the labour market. While Māori in employment represent only 12.0% of total national employment, Māori are over-represented in the unemployed (28.1% or 36,800) and underutilised (79,000 or 23.5%) categories with nearly a third of youth ‘not in employment, education and training' (NEET).

Compared to the rest of the workforce:

  • Māori workers are younger. The 15-24 year olds represent a higher (21.0%) percentage of employed compared to New Zealand Europeans (14.5%).
  • Māori have higher proportion of workers employed in lower-skilled occupations, and in industries particularly vulnerable to changes in technology and economic cycles (eg manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and construction).
  • The Māori unemployment rate (10.8%) remains the highest and well above the national unemployment rate (4.9%). The Māori unemployment rate is particularly high for youth (20.4%) and women (12.0%).

Māori labour market outcomes have improved

  • In 2017, the labour force participation rate for Māori reached 69.7%, the highest for Māori on record, driven by strong participation growth from women and youth.
  • There were also more Māori in employment this year. The number of Māori employed in 2017 was 20.5% (or 51,600 workers) higher than in 2012. Particularly strong increases were observed for youth, older workers and women.
  • Māori unemployment rates also fell during this period, again being led by women and youth. The Māori workforce is shifting towards more skilled*occupations (from 39.0 in 2012 to 43.0% in 2017) as Māori employment in business services expand.
* Skilled occupations include those in manager, professional, technician and trades occupation groups; semi-skilled occupations include clerks, sales, service and plant operator occupation groups; and lower-skilled occupations include labourers.

Strong regional disparities in Māori labour market outcomes

  • Unemployment rates range from a high of 16.7% in the northern region of Te Tai Tokerau, to 8.3% in Te Whanganui ā Tara. Similar patterns are observed for NEET rates.
  • Urbanized regions have lower unemployment rates probably due to more employment opportunities in those regions. The regions with the lowest unemployment are also the regions with the smallest gap between Māori and non-Māori unemployment rates, and vice versa.
  • The gap in NEET rates between Māori and non-Māori persists across regions, with only two regions experiencing a reduction in the gap: Te Tai Hauauru and Te Whanganui a Tara.
Last updated: 06 September 2021