From a young women's perspective: Part 1

Mind the Gap: Latayvia


  • Workplace

Mindthegap NZ will launch a public pay gap registry in March 2022. Nearly 50 years on from the Equal Pay Act, three wahine say it’s time for change.

Part 1: Latayvia Tualasea Tautai is a law student, and part time financial mentor at Fonua Ola, a Pacific social service. 

As a young Pacific woman in university, the gender pay gap is of great concern and adding the intersection of ethnicity is one that myself and my community are disproportionately impacted by. Pacific women are paid 27.4 per cent less than Pākehā men.

If we were to go by current progress rates, without campaigns such as MindTheGap NZ, it would take 120 years to close this gap. Pacific women bring Aotearoa pride on the sports fields, Olympic podiums, the creative world stage. Pacific people volunteer over 14,000 hours per week. We are integral to the fabric of what it means to be a Kiwi. But we should not have to be excellent to be worthy of pay equity, we deserve more.

Gender and racial discrimination is something I’ve been taught to expect, navigate and rise above. This campaign is important so that generations following will not have to face these barriers.

Growing up raised by a resilient single mother on the benefit with the support of my village, the pay gap issue is not one I was afforded the privilege of thinking about until recently. I grew up watching my grandparents work overtime in factories. The labour intensive work impacted their health and quality of life.

I am very mindful that the working poor are time-poor. Their sacrifices have allowed me the opportunity to pursue my passions and speak out about the very issues that they faced and that we as Pacific people especially face today.

As the first in my family to attend university, like many others the responsibility of breaking the cycle of poverty is at the core of everything I do. For many of us, every dollar counts. We just want to be paid what we deserve and work for organisations that are committed to closing the pay gap.

‘I grew up watching my grandparents work overtime in factories'

Working for a Pacific social service, Fonua Ola, I am often reminded of the ever-present social inequities in Aotearoa. During lockdowns especially, like many organisations, we are inundated with requests for food support. Many families are struggling to afford the basic costs of living.

Pacific high school students are leaving high school to support their family’s survival and although this is not new, lockdown has placed even more pressure on families.

The past 20 years have seen minimal movement in regards to addressing the pay gap.

Reporting is one step in the right direction. Reflecting on this year’s apology for the dawn raids, I am appreciative for the healing it may have facilitated for the generations before mine. But we are the generation who have been afforded the voice and space to ask for more.

We need the government to mandate organisations to report their ethnic and gender pay gaps because this means a commitment to closing these gaps. Systemic change flows through to organisations, to employees, to families and to the future.

This story was originally published on Stuff on November 7th 2021. Click here to see the original.

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The Mind the Gap campaign

We want an Aotearoa New Zealand where everyone is paid fairly for their work; where pay discrimination based on ethnicity, gender or ability no longer exists.

Read the other two parts of this series