Aims: This investigation uses data from 1996-97 to update previous studies of social class mortality differences in Maori and non-Maori New Zealand men aged 15-64 years.
Methods: Numerator data were obtained from the national death registrations and denominator data were from the 1976, 1986 and 1996 censi. For each social class, age standardised death rates in Maori and non-Maori men were calculated for amenable, non-amenable and all causes of mortality.
Results: Maori male mortality was significantly higher than non-Maori mortality in each social class and for the total population for amenable (overall RR = 5.3(CI = 4.0-6.9)), non-amenable (overall RR = 2.4(2.2-2.6)) and all causes of mortality (overall RR = 2.4(2.3-2.6)). The social class mortality differences within Maori (relative index of inequality was 3.3) were markedly greater than non-Maori class differences (RII = 1.5).
Conclusions: The persistently high Maori mortality rates, when controlled for social class, indicate that the poor state of Maori health cannot be explained solely by relative socioeconomic disadvantage. The high Maori rate of potentially preventable deaths indicates that the health sector is still not meeting the serious health needs of many Maori. The social class mortality gradient within Maori underlines the need to address disparities within Maori.