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Life improving in Otara and Mangere

Life improving in Otara and Mangere

There has been a substantial increase in incomes of Manukau residents in recent years, with the biggest jumps in Mangere and Otara, a report released by Manukau City Council indicates.

Between 1996 and 2001 the per capita personal income of Manukau residents increased by 10%, or 1.8% per year in real terms.

However personal income rose by 14.9% in Mangere and 23.7% in Otara and the income gap between the richest and poorest parts of the city has narrowed. In 1996 the average income in Otara was only 45% of Clevedon residents’, but in 2001 that ratio had increased to 49%.
The rate of economic improvement over the same period was highest among Maori and Pacific residents of the city. For Maori the increase was 42% and for Polynesians 44%. This is one and a half times faster than the improvement among the total population of Manukau, just over half of whom are European.

While the trend is not unique to Manukau, economic improvement for Maori and Pacific people relative to the whole population was greater in Manukau (42-44% versus 29%) rather than in the whole country (41-42% versus 35%). Lower unemployment is the major reason.

The lower income levels overall are primarily due to the high number of people with unskilled jobs.

The average personal income of Maori is higher and over the past five years income levels increased faster than among Pacific people. However although unskilled jobs are generally low-paid and are fast disappearing, the numbers of Pacific workers in unskilled position rose from 21 to 28%. There was also a decline in the proportion of Pacific people doing skilled trades work and semi-skilled machine operating work, even though tradespeople are in great demand.

In contrast there are more Maori professionals and fewer unskilled workers, and more Maori are now working as technicians, professionals and managers.

The level of education continues to rise and the majority of Manukau residents now have academic or vocational qualifications.

The percentage of people over 15 years old in Manukau with degrees and secondary certificates as their highest qualifications increased significantly in the decade to 2001.

The proportion of Maori with qualifications rose from 40% to 51.4%, and the proportion of Maori gaining degrees tripled.

Education levels among the Pacific community have also risen and only 38% of Pacific peoples aged 15 or over have no qualifications, compared to 55% in 1991. The proportion with degrees or secondary school certificates has almost doubled.

The promotion of education and training in Manukau has been strongly supported by Skill NZ, Department of Work and Income and COMET (the City of Manukau Education Trust). However, immigration policy favouring skilled and educated immigrants also contributed to the improvement.

Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says, “These figures are very encouraging as a whole because they show we’re making solid progress in many areas, especially among Maori families. However the low education and qualification levels among a substantial proportion of our Pacific people is a great concern.

“Socially, it’s a recipe for disaster as so many social and personal problems come from not earning enough money to raise a family.

“That is why we as a council are supporting strong, combined efforts to raise standards and keep young people in school until they choose a career and get qualifications.

“In future there will be fewer and fewer unskilled, assembly-line jobs. Yet we still have large numbers of teenagers leaving school with no skills or qualifications, no idea what they are going to do, and unable to read and write properly. It’s a big challenge for schools, families and for the city as a whole.”

“Somehow we have to convince young people to aim high, to want to become an engineer and not a petrol station attendant.”

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