(Elton Smallman, Waikato Times) Maori are living longer and the gap between the rest of the population is closing.
Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show the gap between Maori and non-Maori life expectancy has narrowed to 7.3 years based on death rates in 2010 to 2012.
- 72.8 years for Maori men
- 76.5 years for Maori women
- 80.2 years for non-Maori males
- 83.7 years for non-Maori females
It continues a trend that saw the gap narrow from 9.1 years in 1995 to 1997, 8.5 years in 2000 to 2002 and 8.2 years in 2005 to 2007.
“That’s really, really great if that is happening,” Te Kohao Health managing director Tureiti Moxon said.
But just as Maori health improves, so too does non-Maori health and Mrs Moxon said closing the gap completely is a long way off.
“The gap still remains quite substantial in Pakeha health and Maori health and so I guess the thing is every gain has got to be positive for us.”
Maori and non-Maori life expectancy have increased but Maori death rates are higher than non-Maori at nearly all ages.
Mrs Moxon said Ministry of Health targets in areas such as immunisation, mammograms and cervical smears are making a “big difference” and targeting Maori health in a Whanau Ora way is working. “There’s been a lot of emphasis over the years on Maori and Pasifika health, mostly because we are the ones suffering the inequalities so there has been a push all round to change that trend,” she said.
The strides that we have made, given that the mortality rate has dropped, obviously means we must be doing some good collectively.”
Mrs Moxon is critical of contracting for health services and said the key to turning back the tide on Maori health is to focus on the whanau.
“We’ve got to get away from the silo contractual focus and we’ve got to look more holistically at the needs of the whanau.”
Total population life expectancy at birth in New Zealand is 79.3 years for males and 83.0 years for females, an average of 81.2 years, based on death rates in 2010 to 2012.