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Maori women key to NZ economic growth

Maori women key to NZ economic growth

Maoriwomen have played a significant role in New Zealand's strong economic growth in recent years, entering the workforce in record numbers and helping lift productivity, Minister for Women's Affairs Lianne Dalziel says.

"Women have been a driving force in the renaissance of Maori language, art, culture and commercial endeavour. It was Maori women who set up the Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa and Matua Whangai programmes and who have taken an increasing and vital role in iwi authorities, Maori trust boards, urban Maori authorities, and businesses," Lianne Dalziel told delegates at the annual Maori Women's Welfare League (MWWL) conference at Turangawaewae today.

Lianne Dalziel, who is also Commerce Minister and Minister for Small Business, said research showed that a high proportion of Maori women go into business for the opportunities it offers, rather than just out of necessity. Maori were almost twice as likely as the general population to expect to launch a new business in the next three years, she said.

"Maori were ranked very highly for business optimism, for the use of the latest technology and for expectations of job creation.

"This supports my strong impression that there are legions of confident, talented Maori women out there who are prepared to take risks to realise their vision. I doubt there has been a better time to be young, talented, female and Maori."

Between 1994 and 2004 the number of Maori women in the labour force grew 41 per cent, from 68,000 to 96,000 and since 1991 Maori female self-employment has increased at double the rate of that of Maori men. In the same period the unemployment rate for Maori women was nearly halved, from 19 per cent to 10 per cent, and has since fallen further – to under nine per cent. But there is still some way to go, she said.

"It's good that Maori women's unemployment has fallen so much, but it is still well above that of both non-Maori women and non-Maori and Maori men."

The government hoped to see more Maori women unlocking their talents and making use of opportunities such as those afforded by the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, backed by additional funding over four years of more than $34 million announced in the last Budget, Lianne Dalziel said.


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