While the infant (babies aged 0–364 days) mortality rate fluctuated in the 19th century, it dropped overall. The downward trend was consolidated at the turn of the 20th century. A declining birth rate from the 1870s meant smaller families and more time available for baby care, which contributed to a decline in mortality. The mortality rate almost consistently dropped throughout the 20th century and stabilised in the late 1990s.
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Source: Statistics New Zealand, Births and deaths: year ended December 2017