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Current Trends, Economic Status of Pacific Peoples

Current Trends and Economic Status of Pacific Peoples

Executive Summary

The Current Trends and Economic Status of Pacific Peoples is one of a series of reports written by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, which looks to provide a statistical overview of the areas and opportunities for economic development for Pacific peoples in New Zealand. The Current Trends and Economic Status of Pacific Peoples endeavours to promote understanding, stimulate thought and generate discussion and debate.

The report focuses on four key areas that are viewed as levers towards improving the economic status of Pacific peoples. These areas are education, labour market, business and housing, and the creative Industries. It is important to note this is not a definitive list of areas with an impact on economic development, but rather they allow for a wide view at areas which can specifically improve Pacific economic development.

Major findings of the report include:


- Pacific students, while improving, are not achieving the same outcomes as other students. More Pacific people are studying longer in education, resulting in high levels of participation in tertiary education.

- In 2004 there were 19,060 tertiary students who identified themselves as Pacific, up from only 3,285 students in 1990. This is an increase of just over 480 percent. The relative increase in the population of Pacific in New Zealand during the same period (1991-2001) was 38 percent.

Labour Market

- Pacific involvement in the labour market is improving, although this is partly to gradually improving education outcomes over the past decade. Participation for Pacific peoples is still below levels of the mid 1980s.

- There have been some major improvements in the Pacific unemployment levels, which have fallen from over 12 percent at the end of 1999 to 6 percent in June 2005.


- Pacific income levels are below the total population. A major reason for this is that a higher proportion of Pacific peoples are in lower income levels when compared to other groups.

- Pacific hourly income earnings are $15.13 as of June 2005 (compared with $10.50 in 2000), which is still below the total population level of $18.24 per hour. Census 2001 information show the Pacific median personal income is $14,800, compared to $18,600 for the total population.

- The Pacific median income for those in employment, is higher than for the Pacific median income for all Pacific, but is still only 83 percent of the income for the total population who are employed.

Business and Entrepreneurship

- There are very small numbers of Pacific peoples that are either employers (1.9 percent compared with 7.7 percent nationally) or self-employed (4.4 percent compared with 12.7 percent nationally).


- While housing, particularly homeownership can support business development, Pacific levels of homeownership are well below that of the national population.

- The numbers of Pacific people living in a home owned by a member of the household has fallen as has the national population. One of the key questions this raises is whether home ownership continues to be a high priority for the current generation of New Zealanders.

Creative Industries

- A number of ‘Emerging Industries’ (such as ICT, the Creative Industries, and the Arts) which despite small numbers, are beginning to reflect Pacific cultures and traditions. These industries are recognised as having the potential to create opportunities for entrepreneurs in national and international markets.
Pasifika Women’s Economic Well-being: Summary

- Pacific women identified a number of barriers to accessing education and training opportunities. These included:

o care giving responsibilities (children and family members);
o the high cost of tertiary education
o lack of motivation and confidence to begin education or training opportunities; and
o lack of encouragement and support from family, peers and tutors

- Pacific women identified strategies for improving access centered on making education more affordable to women. This included locating courses in the community and using more effective communication channels (e.g. Pacific radio and churches.)

- Also identified was the access centered on making education more affordable to women. This included locating courses in the community and using more effective communication channels (e.g. Pacific radio and churches.)

- The financial priority areas identified by Pacific women included, meeting their family’s needs, donations to their church, contributions for immediate and extended family activities and savings for future family needs.

- In times of financial difficulty, Pacific women said they relied primarily on family members for support. A group of respondents said they had accessed financial loans from a bank or finance company;

- Of the participants 90 percent were in paid employment, most expressed satisfaction with their employment situation.

- Balancing their roles in the home, at work and in the community was an important issue for a number of the Pacific women interviewed. The main strategy employed to achieve this work is life balance was enlisting the help of family members.

- Pacific woman had some clear ideas as to what they felt the barriers to employment were. These included:

o a lack of qualifications, experience and skills
o a lack of motivation, confidence and self-determination
o care giving obligations
o language and communication problems.

- Suggestions for overcoming these barriers included seminars on finding and applying for jobs, English language courses, Pasifika women role models, low cost childcare and more relevant communication channels e.g. Pacific radio or through the church.

- Barriers discussed by the participants included a lack of sufficient capital and a lack of experience in developing business plans and financial management. A lack of confidence in the business arena and caring obligations also impacted on their decision to go into business.

- Pacific women receive lowest median hourly earnings

o $12.30 compared with European/Pākehā = $15.00, Māori = $13.50)

- Higher unemployment rate than Pacific men and European/Pākehā women

o Pacific women = 8.5 percent, compared with Pacific men (6.9 percent) and European/Pākehā women (3.5 percent)

- At 2004, approx 30% of Pacific women leave school with no qualifications.


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