The Government's announcement to match iwi funding in job creation comes as 50,000 Māori are registered on the jobseeker benefit.
It’s an increase of 29 per cent since February as tribes are now looking at ways to claw back jobs following disasters such as the Whakaair/White Island eruption and Covid-19.
The Whakaari eruption devastated lives last year in Whakatane and the economic fallout has been compounded by Covid-19.
Ngāti Awa who owns White Island tours felt that loss keenly.
The Government now investing nearly $5 million in a pest control programme over four thousand hectares to help the iwi of the Bay of Plenty.
Ngāti Awa will lead the project and contribute financially - it's hoped up to 30 jobs will be created.
It's not the only Māori enterprise having to shift gear.
“The Government is putting out green jobs and other infrastructure employment so we wanted to align with that,” says Ngahihi Bidois -Tauhara North No 2 Trust.
His trust has geothermal assets and purchased Tamaki village in 2018.
But with no foreign tourists it knew it had to transform.
It’s now working with a Rotorua Polytech to retrain tourism workers for jobs in the primary sector.
The Government is keen for more of that kind of innovation.
“Iwi can play a big role - if they put funding up we'll match it and we'll support it,” says Labour MP Willie Jackson.
Te Puni Kōkiri is now finishing modelling work on the potential impact on employment and wages for Māori that's due out in a few weeks but unemployment has had a stubborn history of being twice that of the general rate.
“I think it's easy to be pessimistic but we're not going to give up, we think we can turn things around,” Mr Jackson says.