The Human Rights Commission's Census of Women's Participation 2008, launched
yesterday, includes information on Maori women for the first time.
The report said the difficulty in getting data meant the picture was far
from complete but indicated that Maori women were more disadvantaged than
Pakeha and other ethnic counterparts.
Maori women featured strongly in community and voluntary work and their
rates of paid employment increased by 23.6 per cent between 2001 and 2006.
But they remained relatively invisible in terms of governance.
Pay disparity was a major issue, with Maori women earning the least of all
Last year, female Maori earned less than Pacific people and other
ethnicities and just 86.1% of Pakeha-European women's earnings.
Maori Women's Welfare League general manager Jacqui Te Kani said addressing
the pay gap was important. Maori women were less likely to be able to afford
childcare and therefore to devote more time to their careers.
"The challenges they face is they have to work doubly hard to get the type
of recognition non-Maori get," said Te Kani.
The situation was improving, especially within Maori organisations as women
took on more significant roles within tribes.
"When you see tribes going around the country, more women are going with
them, whereas in the past they might have stayed home," she said.
Te Kani suggested a new Ministry of Maori Women's Affairs would help to pull
women up from the bottom of the heap.
Sacha McMeeking, 30, recently became one of five general managers at Te
Runanga o Ngai Tahu.
Before becoming general manager of strategy and influence, she worked as a
law lecturer at Canterbury University, where she received her masters with
She said gender and ethnicity created "niche potential".
"Being too many statistical minorities in one hit can become a little
challenging for some organisations to embrace," she said.
"My personal experience has been that in mainstream institutions it has been
far more difficult, but Maori organisations are really nurturing Maori
McMeeking said the future looked bright, with more Maori women achieving at
university and taking leadership roles.
"Every time I have had opportunities for older women to be aware of what I'm
doing their response has been so generous," she said.
"There's a very real sense of pride in younger Maori women succeeding and
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