Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that $2.7B has already been paid out to 428,000 workers as part of the government’s Wage Subsidy Payment. Anyone who is out of work because of the global impact of COVID-19 could be eligible for a 12-week wage subsidy payment. The number of Māori and Pasifika that have applied for the subsidy are not known but we reached out to our networks to see who has already applied and successfully received their payment and what a difference it can make during the rāhui.

Haley Lowe (Ngai Tūhoe, Ngāti Raukawa) is one of many Māori creatives that applied for and received a wage subsidy payment. Shutdowns due to COVID-19 have made it impossible for her to continue to operate her jewellery business O Te Motu Creations.

“In these times of uncertainty, the government is providing financial relief to slightly ease the burden,” she said. “Make the most of what is on offer. I applied and it was a really easy process. Honestly, it’s lifted a huge weight off me. I would have run out of funds to pay our bills then once this is over there would be more stress.”

Samoan theatre producer Tanya Muagututi’a also applied immediately for the wage subsidy and was among the first to receive funds. “I went through the Christchurch earthquakes and funds were made available for us then but our priorities were elsewhere and it took awhile for us to apply,” she said. “This time I applied as soon as I saw the link shared on social media. It was so easy, I did it on my phone. I just filled in my details and pressed submit.”

Wage subsidy payments are available for employers, sole traders and contractors. 

Tanya continued, “If you have no certainty where money will come from then apply. Do it for your babies, for your whānau, for your home. We are part of the wider community and we (as artists) contribute to this society. Value your creative and artistic contributions and put aside whatever barriers you might have that prevent you from asking for assistance. Help is available. I’m so grateful we are being looked after and that the process was fast and easy.”

The subsidy is only for wages and is paid as a lump sum that covers 12 weeks per employee, sole trader or contractor. Payments are being expedited and should be paid within 5 days of application. Haley and Tanya both received their payments even sooner.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week

Full-time and part-time employees that work for a business need to discuss the payment with their employer, who must apply for the subsidy on their behalf.

Cinco Cine’s Nicole Hoey (Te Rarawa) has encouraged all the contractors she works with to apply for the wage subsidy. “This is a time to put your whānau first,” she said. She cautioned to use the money wisely and sparingly. Her sage advice: “Don’t spend the money all at once. Budget the funds because they may have to last.”

Information about who is eligible for the the wage subsidy and the link to apply is on the Screen Industry NZ website: