New Zealand: Pacific Islanders lag behind in jobs, incomes, education

Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand lag behind the general population in employment, income, education, housing and many other areas, an official report published Friday showed.

While Pacific peoples have excelled in sports and the arts, they are underrepresented in many other sectors, the report said.

Pacific islanders make up 6.5 percent of New Zealand's 4 million people, having moved from their small and impoverished islands to seek economic opportunity. Census figures show 98 percent of them live in cities.

The "Pacific Peoples Economic Participation Report" noted that "there appeared to be continuing discrimination" against Pacific residents in New Zealand.

This was evident in wage disparities between Pacific and non-Pacific people with the same age and qualifications, said the report by the government's Pacific Island Affairs Ministry.

Average income levels for Pacific peoples are 85 percent of those of the total working population, it said.

Median pay rates for Pacific Island workers were 15.13 New Zealand dollars (US$10.37; Ђ8.82) an hour in June 2005, well below the national average of NZ$18.24 (US$12.51; Ђ10.64) an hour.

While unemployment nationwide is just 3.5 percent, the level for Pacific residents was 11.6 percent in June 2005, down from over 28 percent in 1992.

The home ownership rate of 26 percent for Pacific residents is half the 55 percent rate among the total population.

Such disparities result in "lower life expectancy, poorer health status, lower educational participation and achievement and higher rates of criminal offending," the report said.

"The indicators show that unless there is government intervention, current trends in some areas are likely to continue," it said.

The number of Pacific islanders in New Zealand is projected to double in the next 45 years to more than 12 percent of the population, reported AP. P.T.

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