Education gap slows Maori gain

By Jon Stokes

A burgeoning Maori population that continues to fail in the classroom will have a serious impact on the New Zealand economy, says the Maori party.

Maori party co-leader Pita Sharples has used 2006 Maori census figures released yesterday to continue attacks on the Government's failure to close gaps between Maori and non-Maori in educational achievement.

The new data shows Maori are younger, are earning less, and have fewer formal qualifications than non-Maori.

The Maori population continues to boom, increasing by 30 per cent in the last 15 years, to 565,000.

However, the gap in the secondary and tertiary educational achievement for Maori versus non-Maori continues to grow.

The latest figures show that almost 40 per cent of Maori have no formal qualifications as against 25 per cent of non-Maori.

And Maori continue to lag in post-school qualifications with about 28 per cent of Maori holding a post-school qualification, compared with almost 40 per cent of non-Maori.

Dr Sharples said the figures showed that while the country's population continued to brown, not all were learning the skills required to succeed in the workplace.

He said the Maori population was young with increasing numbers entering and making up a larger percentage of the New Zealand's work force.

"The country cannot afford to have such a significant number of the population continuing to fail."

The average age of Maori is 22.7 years, compared to 35.9 years for non-Maori.

However new statistics have also highlighted significant gains for Maori in employment, income levels and moderate gains in te reo speakers.

One in four Maori is able to hold a basic conversation in te reo Maori.

The most common avenues of employment were: labourers (21.2 per cent), professionals (14 per cent) technicians and trade workers (12.4 per cent) and managers (11.6 per cent).

Unemployment has dropped from 16.8 per cent in 2001 to 11 per cent in 2006, however it continues to lag behind the national average of 3.7 per cent.

Median income is $20,900, compared to $24,400 for non-Maori.

Northland based tribe Ngapuhi have consolidated their position as the country's most populous iwi with more than 122,000 members, although census figures show that almost one in six Maori - more than 100,000 - are unable to name the tribe they are descended from.

For the first time the 2006 census allowed participants to choose whether they identified as Maori, rather than being automatically included if claiming Maori descent.

Although 643,977 of the country's more than 4.2 million-population claim Maori descent, 565,329 people identified themselves as Maori.

THE NUMBERS

87 per cent live in the North Island with one in four living in Auckland.

22.7 is the medium Maori age, with around a third under 15 years of age.

Around one in four Maori can hold a conversation in te reo Maori.

43.5 per cent of Maori men and 36.7 of Maori women have no formal qualification.

Maori unemployment has dropped from 16.8 per cent in 2001 to 11 per cent in 2006.

Ngapuhi is the country's largest iwi with more than 122,000 iwi members.

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