Gaps between rich and poor New Zealanders have finally started to close.
Ethnic groups and regions that have lagged behind for years are starting to share in economic growth.
The Ministry of Social Development's annual Social Report shows shrinking gaps between Maori and Europeans in important areas such as education and income.
And unemployment has come down more quickly in poor regions such as Northland, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay than in rich regions such as Auckland and Wellington.
The ministry's policy manager of social outcomes, Conal Smith, said groups that had suffered most in the recession of the early 1990s were now profiting from prosperity.
"We are in the middle of one of the longest periods of sustained prosperity since the end of World War II, so you'd be a little bit surprised if this wasn't happening," he said.
"For Maori, we see improvements in almost everything we can compare except obesity, and in that case Maori have become only slightly more obese and the population as a whole has got quite a bit more obese.
"The gaps are closing in life expectancy, employment, unemployment and housing affordability."
Not all the figures are so straightforward. The gap between average Maori and European life expectancy widened by 2.4 years between 1985 and 1997, as Maori suffered more from job losses in previously state-owned industries such as forestry.
The gap has narrowed since the mid-90s, but by only 31 weeks, so Europeans still live relatively longer than Maori now than they did 20 years ago.
Maori unemployment has dropped dramatically, from a peak of 25.4 per cent in 1992 to 7.9 per cent last year.
But the European unemployment rate has also dropped, from 7.9 per cent to 2.7 per cent, so the gap has narrowed only slightly.
Maori are more clearly catching up in median incomes, which rose by 15 per cent for Maori between 1997 and last year against 13 per cent for Europeans.
And the proportion of Maori leaving school with at least the final-year qualification of level 2 in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement has jumped from 28.8 per cent to 36.7 per cent in the past three years - up from 50 per cent to 56 per cent of the European rate.
The four regions showing the fastest growth in incomes between the 2001 and 2006 censuses were all in the traditionally slower-growing South Island.
Otago's median income was up 15.5 per cent, Southland's 15.2 per cent, Canterbury's 14.4 per cent and Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast 13.5 per cent.
The two richest regions, Wellington and Auckland, were under the 11.8 per cent national average increase.
The proportion of people in work grew fastest in Northland, which in 2001 had the lowest employment rate.
The Bay of Plenty, which had the second-lowest employment rate five years ago, had the second-biggest jobs increase.
Wellington and Auckland lifted their employment rates by only about half or less of the national increase.By Simon Collins Email Simon