Voluntary unpaid work gets attention it deserves

February 02, 2021

Dr Ana Koloto (standing) with her team addressing community talanoa in Auckland.    Photo/Ministry of Pacific Peoples

By Ruci Farrell

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples is driving an online survey​ to record the voluntary and unpaid contributions Pacific people make for the good of their communities.

It will be the first time research based Pacific data is collated and analysed on the countless hours Pacific people contribute to see their communities thrive.

Lead researcher Dr Ana Koloto says the Pacific Economic Research project grew out of a need to get a deeper understanding of Pacific people’s contribution to the New Zealand economy.

“Normally we think about a formal economy but there is a lot of work that our people contribute that is voluntary and unpaid productive work.

“This project explores how Pacific people contribute to the wellbeing as well as the wealth development or economy for Pacific people in Aotearoa,” Dr Koloto says.

Treasury New Zealand’s estimates in 2018 suggest Pacific people clocked 27,000 hours in voluntary unpaid work per week.

Dr Koloto says this is a gross underestimation of the number of real hours Pacific people contribute to the wellbeing of their families, churches and different community groups.

“Pacific people contribute much more than just their time, we give our expertise, knowledge, money and skills to support unpaid voluntary work.”

In December a team of researchers consulted focus groups from the nine Pasifika Language Week Units.

Information from the talanoa helped to shape the questions in the online survey which is casting the net wide across the country.

In April data from the online surveys will be analysed and given dollar value by the ministry’s policy team before it is presented to a steering group.

They are made up of representatives from Treasury Department, Department of Internal Affairs, policy analysts from the Ministry for Pacific People, Pacific Business Trust and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Economics.

Dr Koloto says we also need to understand the role of the Ministry of Pacific Peoples. 

“We are the voice of Pacific people across Government agencies. The voices of our Pacific communities become Pacific data and hence the need for us to focus on being more systematic about how we collect these voices from our Pacific communities.”

Pacific researchers host talanoa sessions with the focus groups in Auckland.              Photo/Ministry of Pacific Peoples