Wāhine Māori

We are daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties, grandmothers.

We are leaders, business owners, change-makers, doctors, ministers, members of Parliament, police officers, students, academics, home-owners, lawyers, kaitiaki of Papatūānuku, writers, holders of whare tangata, givers to kaupapa, data experts, soldiers, divers, kaikaranga, diplomats of Aotearoa, carers, athletes.

Walking with courage, walking with love, walking with each other.

He wahine ahau

He wahine Māori ahau.

Wāhine Māori are the pillars of our communities. Wāhine Māori have led legacy movements of te kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, and are the centre of many iwi, marae, community, and whānau kaupapa. This is a positive contribution to Aotearoa. 

Research has shown that wāhine Māori spend more time caring for others in their household and do more voluntary and community work than women from other ethnic groups.

As wāhine Māori we have lots to celebrate:

  • Participation rates for wāhine Māori in tertiary education are higher than for the total population
  • More wāhine Māori are achieving NCEA Level 2
  • Increased participation in the paid labour force 
  • Significant improvements in health outcomes.

There is still more work to be done:

  • We need to increase our income levels
  • Improve our economic position  
  • Address family violence 
  • Recognise and value unpaid roles 
  • Continue to improve health outcomes 
  • Reduce our imprisonment rate
  • Improve our housing conditions.


There are 12 women MPs with self-identified Māori affiliations following the 2020 election (10% of total MPs). This compares favourably to the proportion of women overall, who made up 48.3% of MPs following the election.

Public sector employment

Māori continue to be under-represented as managers and policy analysts in comparison to Pākehā public servants and well-represented as inspectors, regulatory officers, social, health, and education workers. Māori represented 15.9% of the public service in 2020.

Māori women in business

While we continue to seek and encourage a broader range and availability of data on Māori women’s participation in the private sector, the report 2019 Ngā wāhine kaipakihi: He tirohanga: wāhine Māori in business: Insights provides breakthrough data on businesses owned by wāhine Māori. This report found 6,500 wāhine Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand are running their own business and provides insights on the types of businesses they run, who they employ, how long their businesses have been running and the location of these businesses.

Key findings include:

  • The self-employed income for these wāhine exceeds the minimum wage.
  • The main businesses wāhine Māori are involved in include agriculture, forestry and fishing, professional, scientific and technical services, construction, and healthcare and social assistance.
  • 76% of wāhine Māori in business aged between 20 and 35 years of age have at least one child, and 72% of these have a child under 5 years of age.
  • 3% of Māori women own their own business (in full or part) with business ownership higher in the age range 45-60 years.
  • More women own businesses in rural and provincial areas.
  • Māori women in business employ people; for instance, six in ten construction businesses Māori women are involved with employ others. Nearly 20% of these construction businesses employ five or more people.
  • Overall, 28% of these women have qualifications at degree level or above, with a higher proportion (around 34%) for the younger 20-34 year age group. Nearly all Māori women in this age range with a child have a child under 15 years of age. Wāhine Māori in businesses are balancing their work and childcare responsibilities. 

Gender pay gap key facts 

Gender pay gaps are differences in pay for groups of women and men, usually based on the median or mean pay that men and women receive. Stats NZ provides an annual gender pay gap figure that allows us to see gender wage differences at the national level.

Wāhine Māori gender pay gap with tāne Māori is 7.7%. This is lower than the overall gender pay gap of 9.5%.

Wāhine Māori gender pay gap compared with all men’s median income ($28.26) is 15.1%.

Wāhine Māori make up 7% of the total workforce, and 47.9% of the Māori workforce (154,400 wāhine compared with 167,200 tāne).

Wāhine Māori make median earnings of $24.00 per hour, compared with $26.00 for tāne Māori.

Stats NZ order


Māori women median hourly earnings

Māori women (#)

Occupation rank (by # of Māori women)

Māori women as % of workforce

Māori women gender pay gap

  Total occupations 24 154,400 - 7.0% 15.1%
1 Managers 28.77 17,000 6 5.2% 18.5%
2 Professionals 30.69 38,400 1 6.7% 21.1%

Technicians and trade workers

22.00 5,500 7 2.2% 18.5%

Community and personal service workers

21.70 23,000 2 11.1% 16.2%

Clerical and administration wrokers

24.16 22,900 3 9.3% 16.7%
6 Sales workers 20.17 19,000 5 9.6% 5.5%
7 Machinery operators and drivers 20.17 4,800 8 3.4% 9.6%
8 Labourers 22.11 21,300 4 9.7% 9.1%

For more information on the gender pay gap and how it is measured visit the Stats NZ website.