No matter how we measure, large ethnic pay gaps exist for Pacific women. Compared to all men, gender and ethnicity combine to create a pay gap of over 20 percent, and compared with Pacific men, Pacific women experience a pay gap of 7.8 percent.

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

The pay gap exists even for the highest paid Pacific women. Pacific women who work as professionals have a pay gap of 20.6 percent with male professionals. Pacific women managers have a 15.1 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 2021
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 $31.78 $40.00 20.5%
Community and Personal Service workers $23.00 $25.50 9.8%
Labourers $21.00 $23.00 8.7%
Clerical and Administration workers $25.00 $28.77 13.1%
Sales workers $21.00 $22.50 6.7%
Managers $29.73 $35.00 15.1%
Machinery operators and drivers $21.00 $25.00 16.0%
Technicials and Trade workers $22.06 $28.00 21.2%
Total All Occupations $23.02 $29.00 20.6%

There are around 76,500 Pacific women employed in the New Zealand labour force – this means that Pacific women make up around 3.5 percent of the total labour force, and 46.6 percent of the Pacific labour force.

Of Pacific women aged 15 or older, in 2021:

  • 60 percent were in the labour force (employed, or looking for employment)
  • 54 percent were employed
  • 6 percent 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 made up 10.2 percent of the New Zealand public service in 2021, 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...