16 Apr 2013

Maori miners in Australia warned they're vulnerable

7:39 pm on 16 April 2013

A Ngapuhi business leader living in Australia says the jobs of Maori mining workers there may be at risk, because their employers are investigating the use of cheaper migrant labour.

Brent Reihana's comments follow a warning from Victoria University researcher Paul Hamer.

Mr Hamer is studying Maori who move to Australia, and said they could be the first to lose their jobs if there was a downturn in the Australian economy.

Brent Reihana said some wealthy business owners were looking at exploiting Australia's 457 visa, which was used to temporarily sponsor overseas workers on lower wages.

Mr Reihana said that put the Maori workforce at risk.

He said mining magnate Gina Reinhart, who is Australia's wealthiest person, was looking at using the 457 visa.