Tagata Pasifika

Tāmaki Makaurau is the largest Pacific ‘village’ in the world, with 243,966 Pacific Aucklanders (63% of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific people) living in the region in 2018.

Kana mai na buno ni yadremu

You eat through enterprise and from the sweat of your brow.

Fijian Proverb

Three Pacific Construction Workers looking at a plan.

Photo: Hanga-Aro-Rau

Pacific people contribute $8 billion annually to the national GDP. Most Pacific business owners also live in Tāmaki Makaurau (55%), including a relatively high proportion of Pacific women business owners. Today's Pacific Tāmaki Makaurau population is mainly Aotearoa New Zealand-born, predominantly young, with a median age of 35 and they are also highly urbanised.

Auckland Plan 2020: Pacific Auckland(external link) — Auckland City Council

Pacific People in Aotearoa [PDF 13.32 MB](external link) — Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Ministry for Women: Pacific women and men in business [PDF, 1.03 MB](external link) — Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Pacific people with strong English-language literacy gain professional and managerial employment at similar levels to the wider population. There are fewer Pacific people in these roles, and literacy is a key barrier to participation. Pacific people are more likely to be in community and personal service-type roles that generally require lower literacy levels. Increasing English-language literacy is therefore a priority for the RSLG, to address the Pacific pay gap.

MPI Survey of Pacific Adults(external link) — Education Counts

Comparing average hourly wages, Pacific women typically earn 27% less than Aotearoa New Zealand European men, while Pacific men earn 24% less than Aotearoa New Zealand European men. The Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry has shown that these gaps are substantial and persistent and have not changed significantly for more than ten years.

Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry(external link) — Human Rights Commission

“I thought of my family’s financial weakness in [Pacific country], when I got here I thought of going back to school but we needed the money. So, I looked at our poor situation, and I was told that one can take a course in these kinds of trades. But I looked at the time spent on the course and the need to find a job to help my family.”

Young Pacific Worker in Tāmaki Makaurau

MPI Survey Pacific Skills Numeracy Skills(external link) — Education Counts

The Pacific workforce is an important contributor to the region’s labour market, including labour productivity, and could account for a third of the region’s workforce by 2026. Therefore, ensuring that Pacific people have a fair opportunity to enter and advance in the workforce is important to the RSLG. The barriers are well understood: Young people needing to start work to contribute to household incomes (which has risen during COVID-19); unclear wayfinding for subject choices that mean students fail to meet subject requirements at tertiary level; inadequate career support and advice at education institutions; and aiga who do not know about future employment opportunities and may discourage students away from roles they are not familiar with.

Pacific People’s Workforce Challenge(external link) — The Southern Initiative

Aiga(external link) — Wikipedia

The RSLG will support working collaboratively in the region to tackle barriers such as transport and flexible working for mothers/parents, and proactively building connections between employers, industry and their future Pacific workforce. Through the Pacific Peoples Employment Action Plan and local initiatives – including those that have emerged during COVID-19 – Pacific People are determining, innovating, and engaging in lifting workforce and skills aspirations in their communities. For example, Pasifika In I.T. is a group of IT professionals aiming to educate and equip Pacific people to navigate their way in the information technology digital moana, Project Ikuna is an employer and employee collaboration delivered by Auckland Unlimited to improve numeracy and literacy in the workplace through micro-credential qualifications, and Māori and Pasifika Trades Training is a consortia which offers entry pathways, mentoring and employer connections.

Pasifika In IT(external link)

Project Ikuna(external link) — Aucklandnz.com

Māori and Pasifka Trades Training(external link)

MPTT Regional Distribution 2018 [PDF 470KB](external link)

MBIE Employment Strategy

The Pacific workforce and businesses may also benefit from projects such as the planned Auckland Council Eco Park which is based on circular economy principles. Alongside more support to identify and scale these types of initiatives, the RSLG recognises the role of business support delivered through the Pacific Business Trust and Pacific Business Hub, and schemes such as Activate Tāmaki which was part of the region’s COVID-19 response. A third of Pacific-owned businesses employ workers from across the labour market, and Pacific business owners earn 20% more than Pacific people on salary or wage income.

'o le ala i le pule o le tautua'

The pathway to leadership is through service.

Samoan Proverb

Creating shared prosperity through the circular economy [PDF 5.5MB](external link)

Pacific Business Trust(external link)

Pacific Business Hub(external link)

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau(external link) — Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau

Circular Economy Auckland(external link) — Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau

Now Open – Registrations for Activate Tāmaki Makaurau(external link) — Pacific Business

Ministry for Women: Pacific women and men in business [PDF, 1.03 MB](external link) — Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Key labour market and workforce insights

  • 64% of Pacific people live in Tāmaki Makaurau where the median age is 35 years.
  • Pacific workers with low numeracy and literacy skills need extra support and guidance to unlock their full workforce potential and career development.
  • Building better relationships between employer and employee through ‘Cultural Competency’ knowledge must be compulsory.
  • Pacific prosperity through community-based social enterprise needs to be better supported and fostered regionally.
  • Inequities in pay for Pacific workers deepen socio-economic problems for workers employed in a region with a higher average cost of living.
  • The proportion of the Pacific population employed as labourers, machinery operators or drivers is more than 3 times that of the non-Pacific employed population.
  • Nearly 60% of Tāmaki Makaurau region's 99,300-strong Pacific workforce are in jobs more likely to be affected by automation and other technological change as well as the economic impacts of COVID-19 Industry reports highlight low workplace numeracy and literacy amongst Pacific employees, limiting job growth prospects.
  • Career guidance services for Pacific people are broken and ineffective. There is a need for activities which lead to higher incomes and jobs with genuine career pathways offering continuous learning and development as the nature of work changes.

Pacific workers would like to progress but need to do this in a way that still serves the needs of the wider family group or community in a ‘collective’ manner.

Tāmaki Makaurau has the largest regional concentration of Pacific businesses that are now most in need of financial support due to COVID-19 challenges, and yet access to Kānoa regional economic development and investment unit funding was not available to them.

Moana Research 2020: Pacific prosperity through social enterprise [PDF 5.65 MB](external link) — Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Pacific people’s workforce challenge – Moana Connect(external link)  — Moana Research

Accelerating advancement of Pacific People in the workforce(external link) — Zeducation

COVID-19 and Auckland's Youth Workforce [PDF, 2.88 MB](external link) — Knowledge Auckland

Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment

Tagata Pasifika actions

  • The RSLG will support Pacific workforce upskilling initiatives, led or facilitated by Pacific communities, that will help Pacific people through education, micro-credentials, digital and tech, as well as literacy and numeracy projects e.g., Project Ikuna.
  • The RSLG will support initiatives that close the gap in pay for Pacific in the workplace and supports industry and sector businesses that promote good pay for the right skills and provide opportunities for career development e.g., Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry.
  • The RSLG will advocate to connect Pacific businesses with support and resources delivered by key regional stakeholders to build resilience and growth.
  • The RSLG will support career information support and advice initiatives that have reach and impact with Pacific people in relevant aiga and groups.

Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry(external link) — Human Rights Commission