A new study reveals significant ethnic pay disparities within the top tiers of New Zealand’s core public sector and district health boards.
New data obtained under the Official Information Act (OIA) shows a pattern of ethnic pay disparities across the public sector, as well as a gap in employment policy rhetoric and practice.
There was disproportionately lower representation of Māori and Pacific peoples across all DHBs, compared to the national population. And they were significantly less likely to earn more than $100,000.
“This failure to promote Māori and Pacific staff to the top tiers of the public sector is consistent with definitions of institutional racism,” says Dr Heather Came, Head of the Public Health Department at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
“From this study, we now know that entire government departments have, at different times, had no senior Māori or Pacific staff,” she says.
“This suggests that our public and health sectors do not have the benefit of Māori and Pacific expertise, even though improved outcomes for these groups is often a government priority. The absence of this crucial and high-level input may be contributing to the problems we continue to see in health, education and the justice system, for indigenous and ethnic minority communities.”
The study, published in the International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, aimed to identify the extent of ethnic pay disparities among senior management in the public sector.
Ethnic pay data was collected under OIA from 28 core public service departments (CPSDs) and all 20 district health boards (DHBs). While the State Services Commission (SSC) publishes workforce data on public service employees earning six figures or more, there is no breakdown by ethnicity.
Researchers analysed the total number of full-time equivalent staff by ethnicity (Māori, Pacific, or Other) focusing on those who earned more than $100,000. The findings provide a snapshot of the ethnic pay gap at four points in time (2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016) over a 15-year period.