October 29, 2014
Life expectancy trend positive
The co-author of the new History of life and death in New Zealand says the long-run trend is for Maori and non-Maori life expectancy to come together.
Professor Tony Blakely from the University of Otago says the book grew out of interest in the fact that from 1870 to 1940 non-Maori New Zealanders were the longest living population on the planet.
But while they were enjoying the fruits of colonisation, germs, guns and loss of land meant Maori life expectancy crashed.
Professor Blakely says the situation started to improve about the end of the 19th century, and there has been a three and a half to four year improvement in life expectancy every decade compared with a two to two and a half year improvement for non-Maori.
"Of course we still have gaps and we are still trying to close them but if those long run trends are consistent, by 2040, two centuries after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori and non-Maori life expectancy being the same, it's not going to happen just by change and us sitting around and watching, it is going to require ongoing deliberate social policy," he says..
Professor Blakely says the sort of factors that will keep the trend going for Maori include access to housing, fair access to health treatment including for stroke and heart disease, and a shift to a smoke-free New Zealand.
FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR TONY BLAKELY CLICK ON THE LINK
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