Today, Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora released the Aotearoa New Zealand Health Status Report 2023, a review of the current health of all New Zealanders. Although the report is generally positive, it does highlight some continuing challenges for the health sector, such as our ageing population and gaps in health outcomes for some population groups.

The Health Status Report 2023 uses data from a variety of sources to get a comprehensive picture of the population’s health. This is the first time Health NZ has published a nationwide report of this kind since the organisation was established in July 2022.

“Overall, the report includes some very positive results for New Zealand,” Chief Executive Fepulea’i Margie Apa says.

“On the whole, we are living longer, and mortality rates are actually dropping in some areas, such as for cardiovascular disease and cancer. We’re doing better than a number of other countries with continued life expectancy growth, and unlike most other countries, we didn’t see a large spike in deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Apa highlighted other positive statistics, such as the decline in smoking rates in New Zealand. The 2023 report’s sources showed that daily smoking rates had come down below 10%, although more recent data puts that number at 6.8%.

However, the report does also set out some significant challenges for New Zealand’s health now and in the future.

“There are significant gaps between the health of Māori and non-Māori, Pacific and non-Pacific, and between those who live in the most deprived and least deprived areas,” Apa said.

“One of the most confronting examples is the six-year life expectancy gap between Māori and non-Māori and a seven-year gap between Pacific and non-Pacific peoples.”

Other key challenges include New Zealand’s ageing population, the rise in obesity and preventable diseases, continued alcohol-related harm and an increase in mental distress and self-harm. 

Health NZ and the Māori Health Authority - Te Aka Whai Ora are working on the next three-year New Zealand Health Plan, which takes the report’s findings into account.

“The health data in the report, alongside the Government Policy Statement on Health and Health Minister Dr Shane Reti’s health targets, all help us to identify our priority areas for improvements in health outcomes over the next three years,” Apa said.


Key points

  • One in three New Zealand adults is carrying enough excess body weight to affect their health (i.e. people with a BMI of 30 or above).
  • The latest New Zealand Health Survey results show the rate of daily smoking was 6.8% in 2022/23, down from 8.6% the previous year and 16.4% in 2011/12.
  • The number of people aged 75 and over in New Zealand is projected to increase by 3.8% every year for the next decade, which will increase demand on health services.
  • There is an increase in obesity, and with that, an increase in preventable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Alcohol consumption contributes to incidence of road traffic injuries, drownings, suicide and disruption for family, relationships and mental wellbeing, and it causes approximately 7% of cancers in New Zealand.
  • Increase in psychological distress; increase in self-harm.



Interviews are available with report co-author Dr Gary Jackson. Please email to arrange a suitable time.