Māori-owned construction businesses growing

Poipoia te kākano, kia puāwai.
Nurture the seed and it will grow.

The construction and infrastructure workforce in Aotearoa has undergone significant changes in the past few years, as highlighted by our Strategy and Insights team’s latest update. Here is some insightful information on the industry’s businesses, workforce, vocational education and training, tenure, and future.

According to the latest insights, Māori-owned construction businesses have grown by nearly 20% from 2018 to 2021, while there has only been a 2% growth in Māori-owned infrastructure businesses. The trend of career changers as the primary workforce supply channel continues, with 58% of people joining the workforce in 2021 coming from prior unrelated occupations.

The ethnic makeup of the workforce is also changing, with European workers down 11% over seven years, Māori workers up 2% to 17%, and Asian workers up 88% from 9% in 2015 to 17% in 2021. While the ethnic distribution of learners at level 4 reflects percentages in the national population, Māori and Pacific learners are overrepresented in studies below level 4 but underrepresented in studies above level 4, suggesting the need for a focus on progression.

The pipeline of work continues to trend upwards, with a drop around the end of 2021, but numbers rising in February. However, there remains a significant supply versus demand gap in a tight labour market, with the opportunity to reduce demand through productivity improvements being a significant impact yet to be realised.

Overall, these latest insights provide valuable information on the construction and infrastructure workforce in Aotearoa, highlighting the industry’s challenges and opportunities for growth and development.

The data underpinning this information comes from a combination of sources, including the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), TEC’s Nga Kete database, and the Waihanga Ara Rau Workforce Information Platform ( and regional reports. The data sets use a mixture of classification systems, including the New Zealand Standard Classification of Education (NZSCED), the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).