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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Maori-European Standards of Health

In the pre-school period more than three Maori children die in proportion to every European child. At school age, children are at the healthiest stage of their lives yet Maori deaths are proportionately just under four times those of the European. In adolescence and early adult life (15–24 years) the Maori rate for men is but double that of the European, whereas in women of these ages the Maori rate is four times greater. In these ages tuberculosis exacts a heavy toll in young Maori women. From 25 to 44 years the deathrate is small among the European, but substantial among the Maori, the rates being treble those of the European. After 45 years the disparity of Maori deaths over European declines, but there is still considerable discrepancy. The reasons for these disparities may be assessed as follows:

  1. A High Birthrate

    Whenever races have a very high birthrate, this is usually followed by a high infantile mortality rate, because it means that a high proportion of the population are dependant, and therefore not able to contribute either towards the economic support of the population or the management of the family unit. In effect, two parents have to look after the welfare of a large number of children.

  2. Substandard Housing

    This high birthrate is followed naturally by a higher proportion of substandard housing among Maoris than among Europeans, and even where the housing conditions are reasonable, housing tends to become substandard by reason of overcrowding.

  3. Overcrowding

    A small social survey carried out by the Social Science School of the Victoria University of Wellington estimates that the size of the average Maori rural family is 12 as compared with five for non-Maoris, and that the average Maori urban family is six as compared with three to four for non-Maori.

  4. Emotional Instability

    There are a higher number of Maoris suffering from this disorder, because with large families it is difficult for parents to give sufficient individual attention and affection to children in the community where their traditional cultural pattern is being modified so quickly and rapidly by the impact of Western culture. There is also a lack of security because Maori families are moving rapidly from one social level to another with each succeeding generation.