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Getting graduate jobs as a Māori or Pasifika student

Taylor Tutawa

Job hunting is a challenge for any graduate and as a Māori or Pasifika student, the task is even more difficult. Institutional racism ensures Māori and Pasifika people in the workplace must prove themselves more and stand out amongst the crowd to get noticed. To help ease the difficulty with job searching, we at GradMahi present some tools Māori and Pasifika job seekers can use in their search for employment.

Current Issues for Māori and Pasifika job seekers:

A brief understanding of what challenges we face as Māori and Pasifika job seekers is essential than to be able to create solutions for ways to improve our situation. One of the major challenges we face is the stereotypes regarding what Māori and Pasifika people are like and the impact on employment prospects. Anyone with a culturally significant name (Hone, Tane, Sione, Teuila, etc) is almost instantly categorised into one of ‘those people’… bringing up the prejudices and wider societal biases created by the media representation of our communities. Too often I have heard friends and family comment on how employers will say things like, “You’re such a well-spoken Māori,” or “You’re not what I imagined you would be,” when going to job interviews. This act of subtle racism feeds into the idea that Māori and Pasifika people must assimilate to the mainstream, Pakeha culture, and leave all their uniqueness at the door. Playing down what makes us special is insensitive to our communities and our predecessors who have struggled to get to where we are now. Beyond this, it robs us of the chance to bring genuine diversity into the workplace. This is why it is so important to consider…


Career/Lifestyle/Mission fit

  1. What is it specifically that you want to achieve?
  2. What long-term goals do you have planned?
  3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

These are important questions to ask yourself because it helps clarify: your purpose, what type of job you are looking for, and what you can bring to an organisation. For example, many Māori and Pasifika job seekers have large families to support (parents, siblings, children) and are willing to work long hours for minimal pay to support their whanau as best as possible. This was the reality in my parents' and grandparents' generation. In the modern-day, however, we can maintain our attitude of care but with less tolerance of meagre pay and inadequate opportunities. We have now upskilled through accessibility to higher education, through this we can be hired for what we offer and no longer as just the token brown person. Understand what your purpose is, this will give you the power and help find the right job for you.

Acquiring the skills:

Once you understand your purpose, it becomes clear what your unique skill set is that you can offer as a candidate moving into Māori jobs and Pasifika jobs. Perhaps you speak another language (Te Reo, Samoan, Fijian, etc) or maybe you are involved in a community group or belong to the local church or play on a sports team. These are activities our people are often involved in, and most don’t realise that spending time engaging in these activities builds important skills such as collaboration, communication and leadership… all of which employers value immensely.

These skills are easily transferable to the workplace and can help foster better working relationships with your colleagues as well as increase work proficiency and make your job more enjoyable.

Marketing yourself:

Marketing yourself as a top-quality candidate for job positions is the most important thing when seeking employment. Clients and potential employers are always on the lookout for top-achieving individuals and now is the time to bring any relevant experience, awards, and extra-curricular activities to the forefront. To stand out from the hundreds of other job seekers I would advise showcasing skills or experiences that other candidates may not have. Volunteer experience, awards, scholarships, and other activities such as involvement with the local council, writing for different media publications, and leadership experience will all help to show your potential. Real-world experience can be more valuable to employers than someone with good grades and no life skills. Our strength as Māori and Pasifika people is our ability to connect with and establish meaningful relationships with people. We are a collective community; this important aspect of your culture helps bolster your job application by showing your ability to empathise with others.


Finding the job:

Finding a job is a hard thing to do. You could be extremely skilled and experienced with an excellent CV and still may not end up getting accepted for job positions. This is ok, it happens to us all and I can help by sharing some brief tips on job searching.

  • Reach out to your network/contacts and see if there is any available work available (somebody’s aunty or husband will know someone in an organisation or have heard of a job listing, that’s how I got my position here)
  • Job expos are a great opportunity to meet employers from companies looking to recruit graduates
  • There are a number of different programs which help support Māori and Pasifika students and graduates find employment and meet recruiters
  • Job websites are constantly being updated with vacancies for part-time, full-time, and casual work. Check these websites out several times a week to so you don’t out

Speaking of job websites, why not check out GradMahi for job opportunities and advice on how best to maximize your skills and time when applying for jobs and much more.

We work alongside many established organisations including Amazon, Auckland Transport, NZME and multiple government institutions to provide ample opportunities for Māori and Pasifika students and graduates moving into the workplace.

After all the advice given in this article, you should be ready to go out into the workforce and wow your employers with all your choice experience and skills.

Hit the link below and see what awesome jobs lay in wait for you at Gradmahi and good luck with the job hunting!