Achieving Māori health equity is a core part of He Korowai Oranga, our Māori Health Strategy.

The Ministry’s definition of equity is:

In Aotearoa New Zealand, people have differences in health that are not only avoidable but unfair and unjust. Equity recognises different people with different levels of advantage require different approaches and resources to get equitable health outcomes.

This definition of equity was signed-off by former Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, in March 2019.

Having a common understanding of equity is an essential foundation for coordinated and collaborative effort to achieve equity in health and wellness. The definition can be used in all work and engagements within the health and disability system including government agencies involved in the broader social and economic determinants of health. The definition can provide a common understanding of what is meant by equity.

The definition is designed to:

  • fit the New Zealand context
  • align with Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations to go beyond just remedying disadvantage and reducing inequities, enabling Māori to flourish and lead their aspirations for health
  • be principle based
  • be inclusive enough to incorporate all possible dimensions of equity (indigenous, socio-economic, geographically, disability, etc.)
  • reflect the international literature on equity
  • reflect the definition put forward by the World Health Organization.

Progress in health equity

Some gains have been made towards health equity. However, more work needs to be done to achieve health equity for Māori and all New Zealanders. This work includes collaborating across sectors to make progress towards this goal.

Māori life expectancy is considerably lower than that for non-Māori. Overall mortality rates are also higher for Māori than for non-Māori at nearly all ages. Māori health status remains unequal with non-Māori across almost all chronic and infectious diseases as well as injuries, including suicide.

Ongoing work

Over the next 10 years, the health system will work towards pae ora to support the achievement of health equity. This work includes:

  • continuing to develop good-quality ethnicity data to measure and report on health status
  • continuing to build the evidence to inform the knowledge base for Māori health
  • working outside the health and disability sector from time to time.

More information

Equity of Health Care for Māori: A framework
This framework guides health practitioners, health organisations and the health system to achieve equitable health care for Māori through leadership, knowledge and commitment.

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