Bring back Māori Affairs Trade Training Scheme - NZ Māori Council

By Jessica Tyson

New Zealand Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki says the government should bring back the Māori Trade Training scheme to help Māori into employment.

In 1959, the Department of Māori Affairs launched the Māori Trade Training Scheme to encourage more Māori into skilled trades.

It ran until the 1980s and trained an army of Māori tradies from bricklayers and glaziers to plumbers and gas fitters, roofers and more, says Tukaki.

He says restarting the programme would help Māori get into employment, especially since there are fears Māori unemployment could reach as high as 20 percent nationally and up to 35 percent in some regions.

“Let’s start the ambitious programme now of getting our apprentices registered, let’s rebuild that Māori Affairs Trade Training programme."

Tukaki says the move would also keep Māori looking for jobs in Aotearoa, instead of moving to Australia where the wage rate is higher.

“The biggest investment that the government will make through stimulus right now is about training an army of tradespeople. We also know that trades have tracked higher wages.”

92 percent of Māori worried about their jobs

According to the results of a survey conducted by the New Zealand Māori Council in the last three weeks of lockdown, 92 percent of Māori are worried about their jobs and 89 percent can't keep up with the cost of living.

“Forty percent have already indicated they had lost their job or that they were taking the wage subsidiary. So what we’re seeing here is not only an amplification of before lockdown, and the question is where do we go from here," says Tukaki.

“There was only 5000 jobs available on as of this morning. When I first started checking this five weeks ago there was 14,000 jobs available so that’s a significant drop in job availability.”

Tukaki supports the government’s plans to use the initiative Mana in Mahi to help Māori into employment.

“That is actually a really great programme. So how can we scale initiatives like that up. How can we ensure that we sign more apprentices up.”

According to the survey, 62 percent of Māori are concerned about mental health for themselves or a whānau member.

“Not only are people feeling isolated, they have a genuine fear of the future," he says.

“Other people are making decisions about whether or not to buy food, or keep the power on or pay the power bill right through too many struggling with keeping up with rent.”

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says the government is working on a plan to help people into employment including programmes Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi.