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19 Aug 2021

Melanie Carroll, Stuff

New Zealand: Govt launches inquiry on discrimination of Pacific workers

"'Basic racism': Pacific workers struggle to get training and promotions", 19 August 2021

Pacific workers want to get ahead, but many find they are stuck in a narrow range of jobs because employers keep “the brown ones on the floor”, says the employment rights watchdog.

Commissioner of Equal Employment Opportunities Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo​ has launched an inquiry into Pacific people, New Zealand’s lowest paid workers. The scope of the inquiry has been decided, and she will release her report in April or May next year.

Pacific workers were not put forward for training and promotions, and did not report workplace discrimination because of fears of reprisal, Sumeo said.


People had talked about being excluded based on their colour and ethnicity, while workers on temporary visas did not speak out because of the fear of losing their job and having to leave the country.


The commission had set the terms of reference of the inquiry and was now starting to engage with Pacific workers to get their input.

According to a report released in December, Pacific women were the lowest paid group in New Zealand, with a 27 per cent different in wages between them and European men.

There was no similar data from the private sector, because there were no mandatory reporting requirements.