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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life expectancy stats need supporting

Maori health is improving... but could do better.

That's the view of Tony Blakely, the director of the Health Inequalities Research Programme at Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine.

He says the latest research from Statistics New Zealand based on deaths between 2005 and 2007 show life expectancy of Maori is improving.
However Maori still die eight years earlier than non-Maori so there's more work to be done.

“I think improving access to treatments for cardiovascular disease and cancer are critical to seeing that gap close further, improved efforts to reduce smoking for all but particularly for Maori are critical in seeing that gap close. Increased effort in reducing fat in diets for all but particularly for Maori are critical to closing that gap, so yes it can keep coming down but it needs concerted social and public health action,” Dr Blakely says.

It is possible, with such concerted effort, to bring the gap down to 2-3 years within twenty to thirty years.


A trade union organiser and political commentator says the expected new Labour leader Phil Goff and deputy Annette King are both good scrappers who will put the incoming National government under alot of pressure.

But Matt McCarten says they will have a lot catch up work to do getting to grips with Maori issues.

“And I am not sure he actually has an inclination to dio it. He’s going to have to, but neither him nor the new deputy have a track record in it so National is obviously gong to make the run on it. It will make the relationship between Maori ad National, Maori and Labour quite an interesting issue. Goff has never held any portfolios that have impacted particularly ion Maori except for locking them up,” Mr McCarten says

He says Mr Goff and Ms King will attempt to move the Labour Party to the right which is not necessarily good for Maori.


A Maori women’s church group in South Auckland is holding a convention for women on Friday night to help uplift community spirit in the troubled suburb of Clendon.

Mania Clarke from the Clendon Baptist church says pressures in the area have been highlighted recently with a number of murders, beatings and terrible crimes.

She says the Wahine Atua convention is a way of women showing that not everything in the area is negative.

The convention is for women of all faiths and ethnicity.
Returned Services Association says members and whanau of the 28th Maori Battalion strongly acknowledge their World War One predecessors.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the armistice signed between Britain and Germany in Compiegne, France - ending World War One.

RSA chief executive Dr Stephen Clarke says many Maori communities were impacted from the return of soldiers of the Pioneer Battalion and also those killed in battle and left in Europe.

Dr Clarke says although they are not always remembered strongly, the links remain for Maori.

“The 28th Maori Battalion and whanau have a sense of this whakapapa that goes back to the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War. Certainly that sense is there that those traditions were passed on,” Dr Clarke says.

The says it was fitting that outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark laid the wreath at the national service in Wellington, as the Labour government has been committed to remembrance projects.


The improvements in Maori health and increased life expectancy need to be protected by the incoming government, according to a leading health researcher.

Tony Blakely, the director of the Health Inequalities Research Programme at Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine, says health policy has a huge and lasting impact on Maori life expectancy.

He says the incoming government will need to be aware of that as they deal with the international financial crisis.

The gap between Maori and non-Maori life expectancy grew during the eighties and nineties largely as a result of the Maori redundancies under Rogernomics.

So how will Maori life expectancy fare under the new National-led government?

“This is the $64 million question and it’s being asked at just the right time.

“We have an international financial cloud coming our way. We’ve got our learnings from the last 20 years of what can happen with ethnic life expectancy trends. They do change over time. We have to ask ourselves what we’re doing as a society to manage the likely increase in unemployment so will non-Maori and will non-Maori life expectancy improve?

"Well it all depends. As long as we look after our social determinants, we should still see ongoing improvements,” Dr Blakely says.


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