The Labour Party says Maori are bearing the brunt of the Government's failure to come up with a credible economic plan.
Latest unemployment figures show the Maori rate has climbed from 14.2% to 16.4%.
Unemployment nationally has jumped from 6% to 6.8%. However, the Maori figures are an increase of nearly a third from the same time last year.
Parekura Horomia MP says the Maori rate is even worse in some rural areas.
He says community work schemes are only a temporary fix and there are more fundamental problems.
He says the Government needs to come up with a credible economic plan to create jobs and build a strong economy.
Mr Horomia told Waatea News the situation is bad in areas like Gisborne and Hawke's Bay where the unemployment rate is up from 6.5% to 8.5% - meaning more than 2000 more people are out of work.
Labour list MP Shane Jones says more than one in three Maori are unemployed in parts of Northland.
He says it's an indictment on Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, who, he says, has been more interested in the Maori flag over prisons than tackling unemployment.
Dr Sharples says the figures are a reflection of the tough economic times.
He says it is important to try to get training opportunites going - but if there are no jobs, there are no jobs.
Pressure on small towns
Opotiki Mayor John Forbes says the increase in the unemployment rate has seen people returning to small communities after failing to find work in the major centres.
He told Morning Report the influx of unemployed workers is putting pressure on families and community employment projects.
Mr Forbes said Maori in Opotiki are particularly affected by the unemployment.