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NZers' health and wellbeing continue to improve

08 August 2006

New Zealanders' health and wellbeing continue to improve

The Social Report 2006 shows that New Zealanders' health and wellbeing have improved markedly over the past decade, Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

Mr Benson-Pope said that the Social Report presented hard data about New Zealanders' income, employment, health, safety, and education. Significant gains had been made in all these areas since the mid-1990s.

"Under Labour, New Zealand has lifted the floor in social progress and wellbeing", Mr Benson-Pope said. "Our benchmark for social wellbeing is increasing every year, as New Zealanders become better educated, better paid, healthier, and safer".

Mr Benson-Pope said the good results ranged across almost every area of wellbeing, confirming the value of the Labour-led Government's social investments. "Compared to the mid-1990s, more children are taking part in early childhood education, more young people are leaving school with higher qualifications, and more adults have tertiary qualifications.

"The employment rate has increased, and unemployment has fallen dramatically. Median hourly incomes have increased, and the share of the population with low incomes has reduced. Much of the data refers to 2004 and 2005, and Working for Families will have further improved incomes for low and middle income families since then".

In the areas of health and safety, Mr Benson-Pope welcomed the news that life expectancy has increased and cigarette smoking declined, and that the rate of road deaths has declined as well. "I'm particularly encouraged to see, in health as in other areas, the strong gains being made by Maori and Pacific people. In fact, in most areas, outcomes for Maori are improving at a faster rate than they are for other New Zealanders" he said.

While the Social Report 2006 showed that obesity was continuing to increase, Mr Benson-Pope said that Ministry of Health strategies to tackle the issue reflect that this is a priority area for Government.

ENDS

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