Story: Death rates and life expectancy

Pākehā family, 1870s

Pākehā family, 1870s

Mr and Mrs Roots and their large family pose for the camera in front of their Whanganui home in the 1870s. The house started as a two-bedroom cottage but was enlarged several times to accommodate more children. In this decade especially there was both high fertility and high mortality in Pākehā society. This took its toll on women of childbearing age, who had to deal with the physical stress of bearing many children. Consequently men had a longer life expectancy. Mrs Roots predeceased her husband by a number of years.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, William James Harding Collection (PAColl-3042)
Reference: 1/1-000186-G
Photograph by William James Harding

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ian Pool, 'Death rates and life expectancy - New Zealand epidemiological transitions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 July 2022)

Story by Ian Pool, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 14 Mar 2019