The ultimate health statistic – Maori suffer 10% loss of life
Hon Tariana Turia, Maori Party health spokesperson 10 November 2008
The gap in life expectancy between Maori and non-Maori is like an epidemic wiping out 10% of the Maori population,
according to the Maori Party.
“If bird ‘flu killed one in ten of New Zealand’s population, a national emergency would be declared. There would be
crisis plans put in place, trained personnel and resources redeployed and public spending redirected until the emergency
was over,” said Health spokesperson Tariana Turia.
“There is an equivalent disaster taking place in Aotearoa right now. The latest life expectancy figures show Maori
people have 10% shorter lifetimes than non-Maori.
“A newborn Maori girl can expect to live to 75.1 years, compared to 83 years for a non-Maori girl. A newborn Maori boy
can expect to live to 70.4 years, compared to 79 years for a non-Maori boy.
“In other words, each Maori person on average loses ten percent of their life,” she said.
“If we were to dig a little deeper, we would find that many of those people died prematurely from chronic and
debilitating illnesses, which mean that the quality of their living years is diminished,” she said.
“It is utterly appalling, and a national disgrace that this country does not expect that tangata whenua should live as
long, or as well, as others, but we have come to regard this situation as normal and it barely rates a mention in the
“These terrible discrepancies in Maori health do not get the priority they deserve. Successive governments have drawn
up Maori health strategies and action plans, but they have not been given sufficient urgency and importance.
“Gaps in life expectancy are closing, but far too slowly. In the meantime, our whanau are left to carry the burden of
poor health, which is associated with under-achievement at school, poor performance at work and a whole cycle of
“The economic costs to the nation are severe, and the whole issue of health disparities needs to be tackled a lot more
aggressively than we are seeing at present.
“Whanau ora is one of the fundamental kaupapa of the Maori Party. We want to know how much is spent on improving Maori
health, and what have been the actual outcomes for Maori. We believe we can offer the government fresh and more
effective approaches to dealing with complex issues such as this, which will benefit the whole nation,” said Mrs Turia.