AUCKLAND, July 6 - It could also have a positive impact on the graduate's family and community, and on society in general, research from Otago University's National Centre for Lifecourse Research suggests.

The study found that Maori and Pacific graduates had rates of employment, incomes and levels of voting that were similar to other New Zealand graduates.

It also found that they were more likely to report helping friends, family and acquaintances two years after graduating, compared with their peers.

The findings come from the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand, which is looking at the employment, health and social outcomes of more than 8700 graduates from the country's eight universities over a 10-year period.

Participants provided information in their final year at university in 2011, and again in 2014 at two years post-graduation.

The study has been published in the international journal Higher Education Research and Development.

Lead author Dr Reremoana Theodore says the findings suggest that boosting higher education success for Maori and Pacific students may reduce ethnic inequalities in labour market outcomes in New Zealand.

"This also may result in substantial social benefits for graduates' families and communities," she said. 

"Maori and Pacific Island students are under-represented within universities and our findings underscore the importance of equity in higher education for New Zealand's social and economic development."

Despite the benefits of a university education, the study also found that Maori and Pacific graduates had more financial commitments and reported worse financial strain during their final year of study, than other graduates.

At two years post-graduation, the financial differences were fewer, but some still remained.