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Maori Life Expectancy On The Rise

Maori Life Expectancy On The Rise

New figures revealing a startling improvement in Maori life expectancy are extremely good news, and show that Maori - contrary to Government opinion - appear to be rising to the challenge of taking responsibility for their health needs, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Yesterday, Statistics NZ released figures showing that a Maori boy born between 2000/02 can expect to live 69 years, compared to 66.6 years if born between 1995-97. And a Maori girl would live 73.2 years, compared to 71.3," Mrs Roy said.

"Researchers say `we are seeing a health recovery following the reforms of the 1980's and 90's' - yet, just months ago, Wellington School of Medicine researchers made the extraordinary claim that pakeha were stealing Maori life expectancy.

"What the researchers have failed to tell is that they have changed the definition of Maori for research purposes. Direct comparisons between `then and now' are very difficult to establish as a result of this redefinition.

"When Maori life expectancy was not rising, researchers blamed the Government and called for more Maori-based heath initiatives. Now that Maori life expectancy is rising, they point to a need for more Maori-based health initiatives. Researchers cannot have it both ways.

"It is bad science to harness data to support a pre-existing conclusion. Reasons for the improvement are not easily explained - it may well be that awareness of disease processes have increased among Maori.

"These figures are very good news. Let's be fair and give Maori the credit, rather than rushing to explain their success as credit to the government of the day," Mrs Roy said.

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