Ngāi Tahu and Waikato tainui want to break the chain of Māori workers going into blue collar jobs.
Their joint research found 49 per cent of the labour force is stuck in low paying jobs.
It also found a transition is needed to ensure Māori become less vulnerable to economic shocks like Covid-19.
Between 2006 and 2018, the numbers of Māori working in high-skill occupations like engineering, science, and health nearly doubled.
Increasingly more are working in skilled work as well - trades, horticultural work and as technicians.
However, 49 per cent work in low paying hospitality, retail and factory jobs.
One researcher says broadening the trades training scheme is a simple answer.
“So that we're also looking at pathways for Māori into tech into high tech engineering into careers in health so we're not bottlenecked into one sector of the labour market,” executive director of Tokona te Raki, Eruera Tarena, said.
NZ First MP Shane Jones blames immigration.
“Until the employer classes of New Zealand are made to invest more in our own people you're always going to have this disparity and a thousand million jobs from Silicon Valley is not going to solve that underlying problem.”