• Posted on: 1/12/2021
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  • Tagged with: Te Runanga

Claim Wai 2864 calls on the Crown to address inequities in employment suffered by wāhine Māori.

It was officially registered in January 2019 by the Tribunal, as part of its Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry.

The claim raises treaty breaches that have relegated generations of wāhine Māori to low paid jobs with vulnerable work conditions.

These include the Crown’s failure to provide education that adequately prepares wāhine Māori for employment, and to eliminate bias and discrimination in the workplace.

The claim was lodged on behalf of the PSA Rūnanga by Georgina Kerr, Llani Harding and Paula Davis.  DHB Sector Māngai Allan Franks became a claimant in 2021.

 A survey of PSA wāhine Māori members was conducted in 2019 to gather evidence for the claim. This revealed disturbing levels of bias, racism and discrimination in the workplace and has led to the launch of a Mana Wahine campaign to call it out.

A series of tūāpapa hearings began in 2021 to set the pou or foundations for the Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry.

From left: Georgina Kerr, Llani Harding and Paula Davis.


Related documents

More information

Read on to find out more about our original Mana Wāhine Waitangi Tribunal claimants, Georgina Kerr, Llani Harding and Paula Davis.


From left: Georgina Kerr, Llani Harding and Paula Davis.

Georgina Kerr

Over 50 years I have observed a range of inequities and injustices suffered by wāhine Māori in the workforce. This has left our wāhine chronically disadvantaged over generations. My knowledge and experience as a worker and unionist places me in a good position to be a claimant and to highlight and address the breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

Llani Harding

Ko toku mahi tuatahi, he māmā, he teina, he mokopuna, he tamahine nō ngā wāhine toa.

This is why I chose to be a claimant for the Mana Wāhine Inquiry.

I represent my daughter, my mother, my aunties, my cousins and my nannies who helped raise me into the wahine I am today.

I represent their struggles, their success and their hopes and dreams for the future. 

Paula Davis

As a PSA delegate for several years, I have been fighting to close the gender pay gap for government workers. It still shocks me how wāhine Māori have been disrespected over the years. The ongoing effects of this are apparent in the negative statistics we see for Māori in education, in health, in home ownership, and everything else.

That’s why I’m proud to be claimant for our case at the Waitangi Tribunal, so we as union members can tell our stories, and start to make things right.

 Claim Lawyer - Tania Te Whenua


Tania Te Whenua (Tūhoe, Whakatōhea) is a mother of four children and principal of Te Whenua Law and Consulting, assisting organisations to realise a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to engage confidently with Māori culture, clients and key stakeholders.

Tania has specialist legal expertise in Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Commercial law and is acting legal counsel to the Public Service Association and the Council of Trade Unions representing their joint position on inequities facing Māori women in employment within the current Waitangi Tribunal Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry. 

Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the workplace: Issues reported by wāhine Māori in the PSA

Click on the report below to download as a word document:

Report 1: Results Reporting (Word doc)

Report 2: Nga kupu o nga wāhine Māori (Word doc)

Report 3: The Inquiry & Barriers (Word doc)

Mana Wāhine in Te Mahinga Ora | PSA Journal

From Te Mahinga Ora | December 2019 Issue

Mana Wahine claim gathers powerful evidence

A survey of wāhine Māori in the PSA has drawn a fantastic response - with more than 900 members taking the time to tell us about their employment experiences.

The survey was held to help gather evidence for Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina’s Mana Wahine Waitangi Tribunal claim, which challenges treaty breaches that have led to employment inequities for wāhine.

A clear result emerging from the survey is the high percentage of respondents who reported experiencing bias, racism and discrimination at work.

We’ll have more survey findings once our analysis is complete.

The claimants would like to thank all those who participated in the survey.

Mana Wahine team Edited2

Mana Wahine claim rōpū: Marcia Puru, Dolly Larkins, Helen Panoho, Sue O’Shea, Tania Te Whenua, Marshall Tangaroa, claimants Paula Davis and Georgina Kerr, and Leslie Dixon. (Absent claimant Llani Harding)

Heartfelt kōrero from wāhine Māori about the injustices they’ve experienced were also heard during this year’s sector hui.

Wāhine at the hui spoke of how the education system had failed them through bias, segregation, a lack of Te Ao Māori in schools and of encouragement to achieve.

They said systemic bias, racism and bullying continued into the workplace.

Others spoke of being labelled too confrontational, strong, difficult, assertive or aggressive in the workplace. One wahine said her ‘passion is often perceived as a threat’.

PSA Kaiwhakarite Māori Marcia Puru says the kōrero was often “emotional” but the strength of the wāhine in overcoming barriers also shone through.

The kōrero from the hui will provide further evidence for our Treaty claim.


As work progresses on the claim, new statistics are emerging about the persistence of the pay gap for wāhine Māori.

While New Zealand women effectively began working for free on November 18 due to a 11.9% pay gap with men, wāhine Māori have been working for free since October 12 due to a 22.1% pay gap.

Our own PSA Pay Survey also reflects the gender and ethnic pay gaps in the wider workforce.

“The numbers remain terrible for Māori and Pasefika women,” says PSA organiser Dolly Larkins.

“We need to get some hits on the board. Let’s hope this claim helps us to do that.”

The claimants expect to hear more about a hearing date in April.

They’re moving into full campaign mode with the development of branding, and plans to hold a stall at Waitangi in February.

From Te Mahinga Ora | March 2020 Issue

The Mana Wahine team was up before dawn on Waitangi Day erecting our stall at the famous Treaty Grounds.

The stall gave us an opportunity to kōrero kanohi ki te kanohi with the wider community about the kaupapa of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina’s Waitangi Tribunal claim.

The posters on our stall call for better pay and conditions but the claim is also about restoring the mana of wāhine Māori in the workplace.

“We want to spread understanding about treaty issues, how wāhine Māori have been disadvantaged by discrimination in the workplace and an education system that’s failed them,” says claimant Georgina Kerr.


Team shot cropped

Mana Wahine team at Waitangi

The day was of special significance for longtime activists and PSA staff members Janice and Helen Panoho.

The Ngāpuhi sisters were taking the Mana Wahine claim back to the birthplace of Te Tiriti.

Janice says people in the North are struggling with unemployment and low paid jobs.

“Bringing the claim back here let’s them know they are not alone. We can make a difference.”

She says wāhine Māori often suffer from a lack of recognition in the workplace.

“We are not pūhaehae. We never go out there and say how sweet our work is. But too often we are sidelined and overlooked for promotion.”


PSA members visited the Mana Wahine stall to show their tautoko for the claim.

“I’m here to support our wāhine toa,” said Northland DHB delegate Auriole Cook.

“I’m always sticking up for our wāhine. Men get everything. Women have to fight for it,” said DHB member Maria Keefe.

Asked if he too supported the claim, Corrections member Kevin Harris said: “Why not? We should all be on the same level.”


Georgina Kerr was feeling the support for the kaupapa at Waitangi.

“There’s been a sincere response from everyone we’ve spoken to today. A really interesting cross-section of people from all walks of life, different ethnicities.”

The Waitangi Stall was the first event on our Mana Wahine Roadshow. Other events are being planned to take the claim around the motu.

Te Rūnanga will be making a submission to a judicial conference being held in April to plan for the Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry.

From Te Mahinga Ora | December 2021 Issue

The two researchers delving into the findings of our Mana Wahine Treaty Claim survey shared their own experiences of discrimination with Working Life.

As she’s made her way through the halls of academia and the corridors of government agencies, Dr Catherine Love has sometimes been labelled a troublemaker.

“It’s a way to marginalise and trivialise us, particularly if we speak up about treaty perspectives” she says. “But I have a responsibility to advocate for other wāhine Māori.”

Nō Te Ati Awa, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahinerangi, Dr Love is one of the researchers working on Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina’s Mana Wahine survey.

She and Dr Liz Gordon are compiling a report on the employment experiences of 919 wāhine Māori members of the PSA Rūnanga who responded to the survey.

The report will support our submission to the Waitangi Tribunal as part of our Mana Wahine treaty claim against injustices suffered by wāhine in the workplace.


Dr Love’s credentials range from working on child and family protection issues for the Obama administration in Washington, to decades working with iwi, hāpori and rangatahi in Aotearoa to help them fulfil their potential.

Growing up on her papakāinga in Korokoro, Pito-one (Petone), she went on to help her whānau fight the cause of raupatu, became a treaty negotiator and a Māori land trustee.

That’s despite becoming a solo mother as a teenager, who worked blue collar jobs to help raise four children and 28 whāngai.



Liz Gordon thumbnail cropped2

Dr Liz Gordon

Dr Gordon says she was also “given hell” for being an outspoken feminist working in the field of women in education.

The wahine Ingarihi left England for Aotearoa at the age of 16 after “running away from home with a bloke” and had a baby by the time she was 20.

She went on to become an educationalist, a justice campaigner with a law degree, an Alliance Party MP in the 1990s, and a women’s pay researcher for unions.

It’s this combination of lived experience and impressive professional pedigree the pair bring to our Mana Wahine claim.


“Both of our hearts are really in this, it’s a brilliant piece of work, an eye opener for the public service,” Dr Gordon says.

The survey asked wāhine Māori Rūnanga members about their education, experiences of bias and discrimination in the workplace, pay equity, working conditions, and adherence to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We’ll bring you more from the survey in a future issue, but the interim findings show our wāhine members facing significant challenges in all these areas historically and into the present day.

 Main photo caption: Dr Catherine Love


The report is being finalised as Te Rūnanga looks ahead to the first Waitangi Tribunal hearing in the Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry at the Turners Centre in Kerikeri on February 3-5. PSA members and the community are welcome to come and support the claimants.

From Te Mahinga Ora | March 2021 Issue

e pou or foundations for the Inquiry, by exploring the tikanga and role of wāhine in Te Ao Māori. 

The Inquiry will go on to consider contemporary treaty breaches including the PSA’s Rūnanga’s claim against employment inequities that have left generations of wāhine Māori in low paid jobs with vulnerable working conditions.

The first hearings were held at Kerikeri in Te Tai Tokerau and Ngāruawahia in Waikato in February.


In often moving testimony, speakers presented evidence about the mana that wāhine held in pre-colonial society.

Ripeka Evans, one of the original claimants from the first Mana Wahine claim in 1993, spoke of how tāne and wāhine were essential to the collective whole.

She described the wāhine Māori who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the “founding mothers” and said colonial attitudes had led the Crown to prevent other wāhine from signing.

“The colonial culture that looked to men as leaders and chiefs – this caused the negation of wāhine Māori mana motuhake and rangatiratanga over their whenua, taonga, mātauranga, hearts, bodies, minds and beliefs.”


PSA Kuia Georgina Kerr attended the first hearing in Kerikeri. She is one of the claimants for Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina’s claim.

She says the kōrero highlighted the “systemic deprivation experienced by all of us”.

“It is clear that our rights have been marginalised for too long, that colonisation has had an impact on the minds, bodies and spirits of generations of wāhine.”

Whaea Georgina says many of the claimants were tearful and emotional as they spoke at the first hearing.

She plans to give evidence herself at one of the upcoming tūāpapa hearings this year.

“We still have to stand up there and that’s a hurtful process. It’s not easy opening your hearts up to share those stories.

“But the Crown is trying to make amends and the Waitangi Tribunal is the pathway to that journey.”

The Rūnanga’s claim will highlight treaty breaches such as the Crown’s failure to provide education that adequately prepares wāhine Māori for employment, or to eliminate bias and discrimination in the workplace.

The Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry will hear a range of claims which allege prejudice to wāhine Māori as a result of historical and contemporary treaty breaches.

From Te Mahinga Ora October 2021 Issue

A survey of our wāhine Māori members has revealed appallingly high levels of bias, discrimination and racism in the workplace – so we’re launching a campaign to call it out.

More than 900 wāhine Māori PSA members responded to the survey in early 2020.

A report which analysed the survey results found 68% had experienced unconscious bias, 60% had experienced conscious bias, and 54% had experienced discrimination or racism in the workplace.


Wahine Maori members call out racism

Mana Wahine claim team including PSA Kuia Georgina Kerr (seated right)

The report findings will help support the PSA Mana Wahine Waitangi Tribunal claim, challenging employment inequities suffered by wāhine Māori.

“It’s a powerful report,” says PSA Kuia Georgina Kerr, who is one of the members taking the claim to the tribunal on behalf of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina.

“You can see how our wāhine through the generations have had to overcome barriers as individuals, within organisations, and at a structural and systemic level.”


Survey respondents reported instances of unconscious bias including people making negative assumptions about their abilities, being labelled ‘troublemakers’, and denial of their background and experience.

‘It got particularly worse when I received my moko kauae, where the negative attitudes were amplified. I would be told things like: Is that real? Why would you do that? That could limit your career opportunities.’*

Examples of conscious bias included ‘sighing and eye rolling’ about Māori culture, talking in derogatory terms about Māori when Māori staff were in the room, bias in relation to promotion, ‘fake news’ about Māori issues, and claims Māori have unfair advantages.

‘Sitting in (the) tea room where non-Māori staff talking about Māori this and Māori that until I told them they were talking about my father and my grandmother etc.’


Wāhine Māori who responded to the survey noted examples of discrimination about their work, and during hiring and promotion processes.

‘I want to be a manager but because the one who hires, the manager has the last say, he will never allow me to progress higher than where I’m now. He’s pākehā and middle aged, and wants leaders to be like him... I can only be myself.’

Some documented how discrimination has affected their mental wellbeing. Others reported being bullied, put down at work, and poor treatment by managers.


Around three-quarters of the survey participants reported facing challenges in the education system, which often went on to affect their employment and pay prospects.

Older women reported being hit, suffering negative stereotypes, being held back in the school system, not being expected to succeed, or being expected to have babies early.

‘I heard comments from teachers, parents and other students for example – waste my time she will only end up pregnant and on the benefit.’

These barriers meant many did not complete their schooling, or returned to education much later, attaining qualifications at an older age.

This has affected their prospects for advancement and led to a much lower lifetime income.

The survey found many younger wāhine have been able to gain qualifications due to improved treatment in the schooling system.

But some young wāhine now find themselves called out for having an unfair advantage or privilege based on their ethnicity.


These educational disadvantages often contribute to lower incomes for Māori. This is reflected in our survey results, which found only 35% of participants feel they are paid fairly or equitably.

‘Currently I am paid at the same level, but I had to spend a lot more time at the lower level to get here than my peers. I believe this is the true disparity. Those that are determined will get there but the road is harder and longer.’

A lack of financial recognition for the cultural duties which wāhine Māori are often expected to perform was also frequently expressed by survey respondents.

‘I am expected to perform duties to assist in the organisation’s bicultural aspirations such as performing karanga or waiata tautoko ‘as part of my job’, yet am not compensated differently from someone in a similar role that is not a wahine Māori.’

Longstanding pay inequity can also be seen in the wider workforce, where wāhine Māori are still paid 22%  less than pākehā males.


“The survey findings and the stories we heard from our wāhine members were heartbreaking,” Whaea Georgina says.

 “We’ve decided to respond to them through a campaign challenging bias, discrimination and racism in workplaces and organisational structures.”

 We’ll be presenting our campaign plan to delegates at our upcoming sector hui in November and enlisting our Kaikōkiri Mana Wahine advocates to assist.

We’ll also be seeking tautoko from our wider membership and the public, and lobbying politicians and government agencies to make real changes that will raise the mana of wāhine in the workplace.

The survey findings will also support our Mana Wahine claim which seeks to put right treaty breaches that have relegated generations of wahine Māori to jobs with poor pay and working conditions.

These include the Crown’s failure to provide education that prepares wāhine Māori for employment; eliminate bias and discrimination in the workplace, give appropriate status to tikanga Māori and Mana Wahine, and ensure fair working conditions and remuneration.

* The italicised quotes in this story are anonymised comments from participants in our Mana Wahine survey