No matter how we measure, large ethnic pay gaps exist in New Zealand, with Europeans earning more than any other ethnic group. For Pacific women this means gender and ethnicity combine to create a pay gap of over 15 percent when compared with the median hourly earnings of all men. Compared with Pacific men, Pacific women have a pay gap of 2.4 percent.

Pay gaps for Pacific women vary by occupation. The most common occupations for Pacific women are as professionals, as clerical and administration workers, and as labourers.

The highest-paid Pacific women also have the largest pay gaps compared to all men. Pacific women who work as professionals have a pay gap of 19.6 percent with male professionals. Pacific women managers have a 23.9 percent 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 2020
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 $31.31 $38.92 19.6%
Clerical and Administration workers $26.37 $29.00 9.1%
Labourers $19.50 $22.00 11.4%
Community and Personal Service workers $23.00 $25.89 11.2%
Sales workers $19.55 $21.34 8.4%
Managers $26.85 $35.29 23.9%
Technicials and Trade workers $23.00 $27.00 14.8%
Machinery operators and drivers $22.06 $24.45 9.8%
Total All Occupations $23.97 $28.89 15.3%

There are around 74,800 Pacific women employed in the New Zealand labour force – this means that Pacific women make up around 2.7 percent of the total labour force, and 45.3 percent of the Pacific labour force.

Of Pacific women aged 15 or older, in 2020:

  • 58 percent were in the labour force (employed, or looking for employment)
  • 53 percent were employed
  • 8 percent were unemployed.

The rate of employment for Pacific women was hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis, and it’s taken longer to correct this than for other groups. This is partly because Pacific women are more likely to work in industries which are vulnerable to employment shocks, such as tourism and sales.

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 9.7 percent of the New Zealand public service (source: Public Sector Workforce Data 2020), Pacific people are under-represented as managers and policy analysts compared with Pākeha public servants. Pacific women and men are well-represented as inspectors and regulatory officers, and as social, health and education workers.\


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