Although there is clear evidence of an increase in the Maori population, it seems to have been largely in spite of, rather than because of, its health record. In comparison with the European the Maori performance has been poor. Nevertheless, it is important to add that it is a steadily improving one, as is indicated by the diminishing death rate.
Infectious and epidemic diseases continue to exact a heavy toll among the younger age groups (for example, the death rate from tuberculosis is some nine times the European rate) while these and degenerative diseases in general take a greater toll among Maoris than among Europeans in the middle-age and older groups, a fact which tends to be obscured by present-day small numbers.
Reasons currently given in explanation of Maori lower levels of health are based upon the frequent overcrowding, inferior sanitation, hygiene and water supply, and poor nutrition.
A second set of factors correlated with the general health standards of the Maori, and particularly with his higher death rate, is his proneness to serious accidents. Once again, causes are obscure, but the obvious ones include occupational hazards for the labouring majority and carelessness among groups, for the Maori is especially gregarious.