The Healthy Country? A History of Life and Death in New Zealand

Alistair Woodward & Tony Blakely



In this book, Alistair Woodward and Tony Blakely tell the extraordinary story of life and death in Aotearoa New Zealand from first Māori settlement to the twenty-first century.


Did Maori or Europeans live longer in 1769? How did Pākehā New Zealanders become the healthiest, longest lived people on the face of the globe – and why did Māori not enjoy the same life expectancy? Why was New Zealanders’ health and longevity surpassed by other nations in the late twentieth century? Through quantitative analysis, presented in accessible graphics and lively text, the authors answer these questions by analysing the impact of nutrition and disease, immigration and unemployment, alcohol and obesity, medicine and vaccination. The result is a powerful argument about how we live and why we die in this country (and what we might do about it).


The Healthy Country? is a decisive contribution to current debates about health, disease and medicine – and important reading for anyone interested in the story of New Zealanders.



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Alistair Woodward is professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health at the University of Auckland and Tony Blakely is professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington. The authors have published widely in the international literature on public health issues—from smoking and cycling to the connections between socio-economic status and health.

October 2014, 228 x 152 mm, 320 pages
ISBN 978 1 86940 813 8, $49.99