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Survey of Māori in Mataatua Rohe shows high unemployment and hardship

Te Puna Ora o Mataatua (TPOOM) ran a survey over the COVID-19 period of 1134 Maori across the Mataatua Rohe (Eastern Bay of Plenty Area) and has released an advance report with significant findings, including unemployment and COVID-19 redundancies together pushing unemployment up to 27.7% for Māori in the region. The purpose of the survey was to identify the needs of Māori communities so TPOOM could meet their needs by tailoring their services accordingly.

While the full report will be available soon, an advance report with initial data to ensures that the key information can be shared with the community quickly. Research Director Dr Melanie Cheung says the survey responses have painted a grim picture of hardship in the region, showing there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of equity for Maori. “The survey focused on the social determinants of health including housing, employment, education, health, essential supplies and demographics; providing evidence that Māori in Mataatua rohe are really struggling.

“An excellent outcome of the survey is evidence that we have more than four times the national average of Te Reo speaking Māori in our area. On the other hand we can see Māori are experiencing serious health issues and financial hardship which were present before COVID-19 but have been intensified by the COVID-19 economic crisis.”

Examples of the findings are:

• 1 in 10 Māori in the Mataatua Rohe don’t have access to a car

• The average household size (4.7) is almost 2 more than the national average (2.8)

• Over 42% of respondents could not meet their financial obligations now or for the next 4 weeks

• Job losses and reduction in wages over the COVID-19 period were significant

Te Puna Ora O Mataatua Trustee Maatu Paul said research like this has been an important goal for Te Puna Ora for some time and the results speak volumes. “This confirms what we have suspected for some time but now we have the evidence.”

Responses indicated a significant number of households have had jobs lost during the COVID-19 Lockdown period. Economic forecasts also predict Māori to be disproportionately affected in future redundancies. This raises some equity concerns that were already there but will be exacerbated by COVID-19, says CEO Dr Chris Tooley. “Having a post COVID-19 strategy for employment in the Bay of Plenty is more important than ever”.

Along with the survey findings and follow up support requested through the survey, Dr Tooley said having an 0800 Hardship line during the COVID-19 lockdown exposed significant deprivation in the region. “Over the lockdown period more than 800 food parcels were given out, along with hundreds of hygiene packs, firewood and hardship grants being organised by our team on the 0800 number. Many of these families were going through hardship long before COVID-19 existed and it’s important we develop strategies to lift them out of a difficult situation for the long term.”

Part of the response to this is Te Puna Ora o Mataatua’s participation in the Regional Skills Leadership Group, which will be coordinating planning and guidance for employment recovery across the Bay of Plenty. CEO Chris Tooley is co-chair of the interim group which brings together a variety of skills from across the Bay of Plenty to get all stakeholders working together for the best possible employment outcomes in the BOP.

The survey results are on this video and PDF versions in English and Te Reo are available here.

Dr Chris Tooley

Chris Tooley, Ngāti Kahungunu, CEO of Te Puna Ora o Mataatua.

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