Te Runanga o Ngā Toa Awhina say they hope to be at the forefront of championing change for Māori women in a new claim lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal which seeks to address Crown failures to address inequities for Māori women in employment.
For women who experience additional discrimination simply because they are Māori, the fight for equal treatment in employment is underway.
Representative for the Public Service Association, Marcia Puru says, "These inequities and disparities have existed mai rano. They're not new to us but what we do know is that there has never been a process to properly assess and analyse the extent of the discrimination and disparities."
According to figures by the State Services Commission, ethnic pay gap trends have not improved, with Māori earning 11.2% less than Europeans.
PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says, "There's that kind of occupational segregation that because they're in those lower paid occupations they're earning less- and I suspect that that's the main contributor. So, are we undervaluing those occupations? I suspect we probably are."
Puru says the problem includes the failure of the education system to prepare Māori women for employment, elimination of discrimination in the workplace and targeting services to enhance their lives.
The union hopes the claim will help increase the understanding of the effects on their families and wider communities.
Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter says Māori and Pacific women are a government priority.
"We've identified that in closing the gender pay gap there is a particular focus on wahine Māori because their pay gap is so much worse. The work that the rest of the government is focused on acknowledges that the work for wahine Māori has been poor and there's more that we need to do."
The claim now goes into a research phase before a hearing.