Pacific Islanders trying to get a job have reported changing their names to an English one instead, in the hopes of even getting a call-back.
That was one of the findings in a new report by the Human Rights Commission; which carried out an inquiry into the reasons behind what is being dubbed the Pacific Pay Gap.
The latest figures show for every $1 earned by a Pākehā man, a Pasifika man earns 81 cents. For Pākehā women, they earn 89 cents, while Māori men earn 86 cents and Māori women 81 cents.
The difference between a Pākehā man and a Pacific woman, however, is markedly significant. For every $1 he gets, a Pasifika woman gets 75 cents.
Equal Employment Opportunities commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo said that 25 per cent difference in pay was particularly huge during the current circumstances; when the cost of living is high and the world is still recovering from a pandemic.
"That is a lot of money that could go towards food or helping a family's situation. Our kids are over-represented in the poverty statistics and home ownership is low [among Pacific]. Why? Because we can't afford it."
Workers report bullying, racism and discrimination
She said those interviewed for the report had shared heartbreaking stories, in some cases, with people facing racism in the workplace and being undermined about their abilities seemingly because of the colour of their skin or the sound of their name.
"That's just to get through the gate.
"For the first time, many of them have opened up or revisited old wounds. But in the process, they have also felt seen, reassured and validated about their tragic experiences of workplace discrimination and racism."
The report, Voices of Pacific People: Eliminating pay gaps, is officially released today and saw about 1200 people - including Pacific workers, employers and union members - around New Zealand surveyed.
Some of the findings that came back included a prejudice against Pacific names and the undervaluing of qualifications and work experience in the recruitment process, a lack of pay transparency, experiences of interpersonal and workplace discrimination or racism and not being given the same training opportunities as fellow employees.
"What stands out is the service to our country. Our people are very loyal and their staying power to certain companies is evident.
"But that investment by Pacific people is not reflected in their pay."
In more serious cases, there were reports of workplace bullying, harassment and violence that had led to a breakdown in workers' behaviours. Others reported having suicidal thoughts.
Same job for 20 years, yet no opportunity for promotion
Key findings also included Pacific men being promoted over Pacific women in organisations, being paid little more than minimum wage despite years of accumulated skill and experience in the same job, failure to recognise or remunerate special culture skills, knowledge or experience used by the company and remaining a contractor or a casual worker for years with no offer of a permanent position.
"We know what fairness is and what unfairness is," Saunoaamali'i said.
"They're stuck doing the same jobs for 10 to 20 years, but not getting the equal opportunity to move up the ladder."
The report will be handed to the Government alongside key recommendations the Human Rights Commission says would ultimately close the Pacific Pay Gap in the next 20 years.
One of the key recommendations being put forward is the urgent push to introduce legislation requiring pay transparency that would eliminate Pasifika, Māori and ethnic pay gaps as a key principle, the Human Rights Commission said.
Another key recommendation for the Government is the amendment of the Equal Pay Act 1972 to expand prohibited grounds to include ethnicity and disability as a first priority and for gender identity and age to be prioritised for inclusion - instead of only the removal of pay discrimination between men and women.
There is also a call to raise the minimum wage to the same level as the living wage; as well as the setting up of a national pay equity taskforce to ensure Pasifika, Māori and ethnic pay gaps are closed by 2042.
"Addressing the systematic issues for Pacific people lifts all other diverse communities too. We have to do it now while we have the time and responsibility."