Large pay gaps exist for Pacific women when compared to all men, with gender and ethnicity combining to create a pay gap of 15.7 percent. However in 2022, Pacific women had no pay gap with Pacific men.

Only 39% of Pacific Women’s pay gap can be explained - and where it can be explained, job-related factors such as type of contract, occupation and industry are the key factor. The “unexplained” remainder could relate to ethnic differences in work preferences, and unconscious bias and discrimination in the labour market.

It's true that pay gaps for Pacific women vary by occupation. The most common occupations for Pacific women are as professionals, as labourers, and as community and personal service workers.

The pay gap exists even for the highest paid Pacific women. Pacific women who work as professionals are the best paid but have a pay gap of 21.2% with all male professionals, and Pacific women managers have a 20.5% pay gap with male managers.

Employers have an important role in reducing inequality and ensuring that Pacific Women’s capability is realised, and contribution rewarded. For our recommended actions for employers, take a look at the “What Can Employers Do?” page.

Pacific women in the New Zealand labour force, as of June 2022
Occupation (by most to fewest Pacific women) Pacific Women's median hourly pay All men's median hourly pay Pacific women's pay gap compared with all men
Professionals $34.00 $43.15 21.2%
Labourers $22.50 $25.00 10.0%
Community and Personal Service workers $26.00 $27.00 3.7%
Clerical and Administration workers $27.00 $31.00 12.9%
Sales workers $22.10 $24.00 7.9%
Managers $30.51 $38.36 20.5%
Machinery operators and drivers $25.76 $26.85 4.1%
Technicials and Trade workers $26.07 $30.00 13.1%
Total All Occupations $26.00 $30.85 15.7%

There are around 78,700 Pacific women employed in the New Zealand labour force – this means that Pacific women make up around 3.4% of the total labour force, and 47.6% of the Pacific labour force.

Of Pacific women aged 15 or older, in 2022:

  • 62.2% were in the labour force (employed, or looking for employment)
  • 57.9% were employed
  • 6.8% were unemployed.

A 2018 study by the Ministry of Education (drawing from their 2018 PISA database) showed that 15-year-old Pacific girls aspired to the following top 10 careers:

  • Nurses and Midwives
  • Lawyers
  • Travel Attendants and Travel Stewards
  • Doctors
  • Teachers
  • Police Officers
  • Architects
  • Musical Performers
  • Designers
  • Actors

Pacific Women in Business

In 2020, the Ministry for Women conducted research into Pacific women who own and work within their own businesses. We found that:

  • Around 1,200 Pacific women are in business for themselves
  • Pacific women’s businesses were all in urban areas, with a majority (75 percent) in the major urban centres of Auckland, Wellington and the Waikato
  • The top industries for Pacific women’s businesses were: professional, scientific and technical services; construction; and health care and social assistance.

Pacific Women in Leadership

Of the 120 Members of Parliament, six (or 5 percent of all MPs) self-identify as Pacific women.

Pacific women in the Public Service

While Pacific people make up 10.2% of the New Zealand public service (source: Public Sector Workforce Data 2021), Pacific people are under-represented as managers and policy analysts compared with Pākehā public servants. Pacific women and men are well-represented as inspectors and regulatory officers, and as social, health and education workers.

The relationship between gender ethnic pay gaps and sectors of work is being investigated by the Ministry for Women in association with Auckland University of Technology. We’re working to identify the size of these gaps by sector, and their drivers, to help businesses identify where they can take action. This new research (Support for Transparency in Employment and Pay, or STEP) will be released in mid-2023.


Find out how we can close the gender pay gap in New Zealand...