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An Exploration of the Māori Housing-health Nexus During the Mid-twentieth Century

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Māori died at seven times the national rate during the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic.

Government officials noted what they described as the shocking housing conditions experienced by Māori. Despite the connections between Māori health and housing being apparent, the interwar years saw little government response. From the late 1950s and through the 1960s, Māori were able to access both mainstream and Māori-specific housing programmes allowing them to acquire a state rental or purchase a new home in increasing numbers. These houses, while far from perfect, were of a far higher quality than those Māori had lived in previously. During this same period, Māori physical health also improved across a number of indicators, including those specifically identified as being connected to the low quality of Māori housing. However, mental and social health declined, as Māori increasingly lived in Western-centric housing and suburbs that did not facilitate traditional patterns of life or consideration for Māori values. This tempers the apparent success of some of these policies. It also provides a path forward where both material and cultural housing outcomes and physical as well as mental and social health are considered in a holistic fashion.

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