Figure 5: Life expectancy at birth, by gender, Māori and non-Māori, 1951–2013 
In 2013, life expectancy at birth was 73.0 years for Māori males and 77.1 years for Māori females; it was 80.3 years for non-Māori males and 83.9 years for non-Māori females.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Māori mortality was seriously undercounted due to the different definitions of ethnicity on death registration, birth registration and census forms. The dotted lines on Figure 5 for Māori males and females represent adjusted, more reliable life expectancy figures for this period, calculated from data in the NZCMS (see Decades of Disparity: Ethnic mortality trends in New Zealand 1980–1999 and Tracking Disparity: Trends in ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in mortality, 1981–2004).
Figure 5 shows that Māori life expectancy rapidly increased up until the late 1970s or early 1980s, after which it was (mostly) static, while non-Māori life expectancy continued to increase. Since the late 1990s, Māori life expectancy has been increasing at about the same rate as non-Māori, or even slightly faster (see Tracking Disparity: Trends in ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in mortality, 1981–2004). The gap between Māori and non-Māori life expectancy at birth had narrowed to 7.1 years by 2012–14. This continues the trend of a narrowing gap, from 9.1 years in 1995–97 to 8.5 years in 2000–02, and to 8.2 years in 2005–07 (see New Zealand Period Life Tables: 2012–14, Statistics New Zealand).
Statistics New Zealand changed the methods it uses to derive life tables in 2012–14. This new modelling technique was used to help with the estimation of death rates for small populations. For further details on the method, see the Statistics New Zealand website.
- Adjusted life expectancy estimates for Māori 1980-1999 use estimates from the New Zealand Census – Mortality Study (NZCMS) graphed at the mid-point of each time period. From 2001, adjusted estimates are close to unadjusted.
- Prioritised ethnicity has been used – see Ngā tapuae me ngā raraunga: Methods and data sources for further information.
Sources: Blakely et al 2007; Statistics New Zealand