Willie Jackson issues informal target to halve Māori unemployment by 2020

Employment Minister Willie Jackson wants to halve Māori unemployment by 2020.

Speaking on Newshub Nation, Mr Jackson said he had a clear target to bring unemployment down to 4 percent within the next two years from 4.5 percent currently.

Māori unemployment is twice that, at 9.4 percent, and on Saturday the Minister issued an informal target to close that gap.

"It would be great if we could get it down to 5, 6 percent, if we could get it to where the general figure is," he said.

But the Opposition says that isn't a realistic figure given the Government's current approach.

The National Party's economic development spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith, says the Government's policies are making it harder for Māori to get into opportunities, while National MP Chris Bishop likens the target to buying a unicorn.

While Mr Jackson wouldn't confirm how much funding would be targeted towards supporting Māori employment, he used He Poutama Rangatahi as an example of targeted funding. The initiative got a $13 million boost to get young Māori and Pasifika into work, training or education. But that type of targeted funding was not in this Government's first Budget.

"The second Budget, as [Finance Minister Grant] Robertson knows, has to target certain groups that missed out the first time," Mr Jackson said.

While Mr Robertson couldn't be reached for comment, it is New Zealand First, who also wouldn't comment, that could be Mr Jackson's biggest hurdle thanks to its dislike for targeted funding.