Labour market update

Whakahoutanga ki te Mākete Tōhaunui

View of Mahia from a cliff across the sea

View of Mahia from a cliff across the sea

On 14 February 2023 Cyclone Gabrielle hit Aotearoa New Zealand bringing record levels of rainfall and flooding. Hawke’s Bay was the hardest hit region, from Central Hawke’s Bay to Wairoa, devastating:

  • whānau
  • homes
  • orchards
  • vineyards
  • farms
  • neighbourhoods
  • communities.

As the region moves from the response to recovery phase, Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay Councils, Iwi leaders and government are working to ensure a coordinated rebuild that is locally led and underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles of partnership, participation and protection. There will be mixed impacts on the Hawke’s Bay’s labour market as a result of the cyclone and the RLSG will prioritise recovery activities that directly support affected kaimahi

Our priorities from the Regional Workforce Plan (RWP) published in 2022 remain our focus as we commit to addressing the workforce opportunities and challenges of the cyclone recovery. There are 5 pou we are carrying forward:

Primary sector

The Primary sector is of vital importance to our regional economy, with horticulture as one of the biggest contributing sub-sectors. The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle has been catastrophic, with lost production, clean up, repairs and re-establishment costs likely to exceed $1.5 billion.

Meat processing is also a significant part of this sector, with 6 meat processing plants in the region. Some in the industry believe it may take up to 5 years for impacted farms to return to pre-cyclone productivity levels.


Labour and skills shortages continue to challenge the construction and civil infrastructure sectors. The anticipated central and local government investment to re-establish cyclone damaged infrastructure will exacerbate these labour market pressures.

Wāhine in the workforce

Wāhine continue to be disadvantaged in our labour market. Of the nearly 8500 wāhine beneficiaries in our rohe over 35% have dependents and are recipients of a sole parent support benefit. There is concern the economic shock of Cyclone Gabrielle will disproportionately affect wāhine in the workforce, as demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

School (kura) transitions

Rangatahi have told us they need more support to access and navigate careers information. They want schools to provide them with opportunities to develop life skills that prepare them for life beyond kura, including access to driver licencing training.

Work ready job seekers

There has been an 7.8% increase in the number of jobseeker support – work ready recipients since the cyclone and this number is expected to increase further. There are currently 74 providers in our region delivering pre-employment programmes. Providers that offer a mātauranga māori kaupapa continue to achieve good results.

Additional information

As a regionally led advisory group we aim to showcase and honour our region's unique story. To support and affirm what we have heard from stakeholders across our region we have created a document comprised of quantitative data. Our ‘Regional Data Snapshot’ and the ‘Actions Update’ should be read alongside our Regional Workforce Plan to gain a comprehensive understanding of the story of our region. To access this information, please visit see the links below.

Regional skills leadership groups

Regional data snapshot

Actions update

Last updated: 12 July 2023