Taskforce boosts Maori workforce

01:24, May 05 2011
Pita Sharples
Pita Sharples, the Maori Affairs Minister, speaks at the Maori Economic Taskforce conference at Auckland. Photo: JOHN SELKIRK.

A Maori taskforce created 250 jobs at a cost of almost $2 million to taxpayers during the economic recession.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples praised the results at the Maori Economic Summit in Auckland today.

The Government set up the Maori Economic Taskforce in 2009 to create jobs during the economic downturn and boost the Maori economy.

More than 1500 Maori received training, of which 17 per cent gained employment.

In one accounting training programme just two of the 16 trainees were successful in securing a job.

Sharples said the Taskforce was not a "job supplying organisation" but worked to set up opportunities for the unemployed.

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"It was really to ease Maori coming out of the recession. And that's how we're coming out - all guns firing, a lot of opportunities."

Sharples said the success of the Taskforce included more than 450 community garden projects, business networking and iwi collaboration projects, resource publications, international marketing, and promoting research and innovation.

"These developments led to immediate outcomes that have supported whānau through the recession," he said.

"They have also laid a foundation for the long term growth of Maori business, work force and communities.

The Summit brought together about 200 Maori business and community leaders to discuss ways to strengthen the Maori Economy.

This included discussing a business report that outlined four scenarios for future Maori economic development.

Under the report's best-case scenario, 150,000 jobs would be created and the Maori economy would be lifted by $12 billion over 50 years.

By contrast, doing nothing would cost 185,000 jobs and leave Maori lagging behind economically.

Sharples said there was a need for greater investment in science and research.

"Our Maori economy, our sleeping giant, is beginning to wake and has a ferocious appetite," Sharples said.

"Maori and Iwi are now recognised as playing an important role in the New Zealand economy. Furthermore we are valued as Maori, and the work of the Taskforce has contributed to this recognition."

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