A young, fast-growing Maori population and eventual Treaty settlements hold the key to Hawke's Bay's future, according to a government report.
The finding is from a Labour Market Mapping Report for the region that was released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs in Hastings yesterday.
The population of Hastings, Napier and Central Hawke's Bay was about 155,300, of whom 18 per cent or 28,090 were Maori.
The region's population was ageing like the rest of New Zealand, with the 65+ age group expected to increase by 66 per cent in coming years, but also had a higher than average number of people aged 20 or under.
"What is occurring is in effect a hollowing-out of the working-age population as young people leave in pursuit of education or job opportunities elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas," the report said.
As the Maori population grew faster than the European population, Maori would play a greater role.
"The majority of growth in the working-age population of the region over the next two decades will be from Maori. It will be absolutely key to the region's success to develop the talent of the young population and secure pathways for their future employment," the report said.
"The future success of the region will depend significantly on the participation of Maori in the regional economy. There is potential for Treaty settlements to enable Maori to become significant investors in the region, and strengthen the economic base."
The report said the area was covered by six iwi, all but one of which had received financial redress for historical grievances, and "eventual settlements are likely to provide potential investment sources".
The region's unemployment stood at 7.2 per cent, higher than the national average of 6.8 per cent.
Maori unemployment in the region is at 13.8 per cent, however.
The report said primary production intensification was "a significant opportunity" and this was being addressed through development of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.
Educational attainment in the region was similar to national levels, but Maori in the region were doing better than elsewhere in the country, with more gaining NCEA level 1, NCEA level 2 and university entrance. More Maori were entering apprenticeships than elsewhere.
The report said the region should continue to focus on lifting the skills of its Maori population.
- The Dominion Post
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