Mortality rates for children were almost identical for Māori and non-Māori in 2006, but in the late 19th century they were starkly different. In 1886, while 14% of non-Māori children died before their 15th birthday, 51% of Māori children were likely to die between birth and 15 years.
While the mortality rate dropped for both Māori and non-Māori children as a result of immunisation against infectious diseases, and improvements in sanitation, housing, diet and general health care, the rate for Māori was over 30% until the 1930s. Māori children's mortality fell significantly after improved access to the family benefit, increasing urbanisation and greater involvement by Māori adults in paid work after the Second World War.
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Source: Ian Pool and Jit Cheung, ‘A cohort history of mortality in New Zealand.’ New Zealand Population Review 29, no. 2 (2003): 107–38; Ian Pool and Jit Cheung, ‘Why were New Zealand’s levels of life expectation so high at the dawn of the twentieth century.’ Genus 61, no. 2 (2005): 9–33