Report: Wāhine Māori and the Gender Pay Gap

No matter how we measure, large ethnic pay gaps exist for wāhine Māori. Compared to all men, gender and ethnicity combine to create a pay gap of 14.3 percent, and compared with tāne Māori, wāhine Māori experience a pay gap of 5.7 percent.

Pay gaps for wāhine Māori vary by occupation. The most common occupations for wāhine Māori are as professionals, as community and personal services workers, and as clerical and administration workers.

Professionals have the highest hourly pay. However, they also have the highest pay gap for wāhine Māori: 16.7%. Over 13% of wāhine Māori work as managers, where the pay gap is also 14.0% compared with all male managers.

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

Wāhine Māori in the New Zealand Labour Force, as of June 2023
Occupation (by most to fewest wāhine Māori) Wāhine Māori median hourly pay All men's median hourly pay Wāhine Māori's pay gap compared with all men
Professionals $31.65 $40.00 20.9%
Community and Personal Service workers $23.00 $25.50 9.8%
Clerical and Administration workers $25.00 $28.77 13.1%
Labourers $21.00 $23.00 8.7%
Managers $27.68 $35.00 20.9%
Sales workers $22.10 $22.50 1.8%
Technicians and Trade workers $24.93 $28.00 11.0%
Machinery operators and drivers $22.00 $25.00 12.0%
Total All Occupations $24.93 $29.00 14.0%

There are around 192,900 wāhine Māori employed in the New Zealand labour force. This means that wāhine Māori make up 6.7% of New Zealanders in employment, and 47.3% of employed Māori.

Of wāhine Māori aged 15 or older, in 2022:

  • 65.4% were in the labour force (employed, or looking for employment)
  • 60.3% were employed
  • 7.8% of wāhine Māori in the labour force were unemployed.

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

  • Teachers
  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Nurses and Midwives
  • Police Officers
  • Veterinarians
  • Travel Attendants and Travel Stewards
  • Musical Performers
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists

Wāhine Māori in Business

In 2019, the Ministry for Women conducted research into wāhine Māori who own and work within their own businesses. We found that:

  • Around 6,500 wāhine Māori are in business (or 3 percent of all wāhine Māori), with business ownership highest among wāhine aged 45-60
  • Wāhine Māori who own businesses are more likely to be based in rural and provincial areas than non-business owners
  • The top industries for wāhine Māori businesses were: agriculture, forestry and fishing; professional, scientific and technical services; construction; and health care and social assistance.

Wāhine Māori in Leadership

Following the 2020 election, 12 women Members of Parliament now self-identify as Māori (10 percent of all MPs).

Wāhine Māori in the Public Service

While Māori made up 16.7 percent of the New Zealand public service in 2022 (source: Public Sector Workforce Data 2022), Māori are under-represented as policy analysts compared with Pākehā public servants. Wāhine and tāne Māori are well-represented as inspectors, regulatory officers, and as social, health and education workers.

The relationship between gender ethnic pay gaps and sectors of work is being investigated by Manatū Wāhine in association with Auckland University of Technology. A forthcoming report will identify the size of gender and ethnic pay gaps by sector, and their drivers, to help businesses identify where they can take action.