Life expectancy for Māori has improved since 1840, National's Dr Shane Reti claims

The National Party's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti claims the life expectancy for Māori has improved over time.

Appearing on The Hui on Monday night, Dr Reti challenged the idea that health outcomes for Māori had been abysmal and said Māori life expectancy had improved. He said in 1840, Māori life expectancy was 30 years of age and today it's 73.4 years, so it had in fact improved.

But Māori men are currently likely to die 7.5 years earlier than their Pākehā counterparts and that gap is much worse for those living with assistance. On average, Māori men need assisted living from 54 years of age compared with Pākehā men who don’t need assistance on average till they are 67 years old.

Also, during his interview on The Hui, Dr Reti discussed Māori co-governance and the Māori Health Authority with host Mihingarangi Forbes. 

Dr Reti has said the success of Māori health providers during the vaccine rollout was evidence there is no need for an independent Māori Health Authority. 

He told The Hui if the Māori Health Authority was already set up by the time National came into government, it would be reabsorbed into a Māori health directorate inside the Ministry of Health.

Under the Government's new health reform, the Māori Health Authority would work in partnership with both the Ministry of Health and Health New Zealand.

When asked by Forbes how he planned to reduce inequities in health for Māori, he said his party would target big inequities such as cancer and cardiovascular disease and would hold themselves accountable to targets, including holding himself accountable.

Abolishing minority ministries

As National's spokesperson for Crown Māori, Dr Reti wouldn't be drawn on whether the National Party could support ACT's policy to abolish five current ministries.

The ministries that would be axed under the ACT Party's Alternative Budget are the Ministry for Māori Development, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Ministry for Women's Affairs, and the Human Rights Commission. Dr Reti joined National's Deputy Leader Nicola Willis, who also hasn't said if the party could support ACT's policy ideas.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and the Public Interest Journalism Fund.