Story: Women’s health

Age at death and life expectancy for Māori women, 1886–2013

Between 1886 and 2006 the change in age at death among Māori women was substantial. In 1886 more than half died aged 14 or younger. In 2006 over half died aged 75 or older. The top graph shows this shift.

Māori female life expectancy (how many more years a person can expect to live) at birth and at 20 years is shown in the bottom graph. The high death rate of infants and children in the 1880s meant that a newborn could only expect to live 25 years, while those who made it to the age of 20 could expect to live another 31 years. The huge improvement in infant and child health over the 20th century meant that the difference in the expected age of death for those under and over 20 was only two years.

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Sources: 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 levels of life-expectation so high at the dawn of the twentieth century?’ Genus 61, no. 2 (2005), 9–33; Statistics New Zealand

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Women’s health - Māori women’s health, pre-colonial times to 1940s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 August 2020)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011