CrossFit 879 gym owner Henry Heke is Maori "by blood, birth and custom", and is one of 39,500 Maori who call Hawke's Bay home.

Despite the emphasis he places on health, statistics show Mr Heke could face a shorter life expectancy than those who are not Maori.

The life expectancy of Hawke's Bay Maori is shorter than the total population, with Maori men expected to live to 71.7 years - 7.5 years less than the total population of Hawke's Bay men.

Maori women had a life expectancy at birth of 75.9 years.


Mr Heke said he felt Maori health issues were not something that had happened overnight, but were 175 years in the making.

"There are issues here that aren't being addressed. I'm interested in seeing the results ... because year after year it's not happening", he said.

The life expectancy inequity between Maori and non-Maori has been a consistent national trend, though it has decreased slightly over time.

In 2002, Maori men were expected to live to 69 and women to 73.2. Their non-Maori counterparts had a life expectancy of 77.2 years and 81.9 years respectively.

Last year, the average gap between Maori and non-Maori was 7.1 years.

Mr Heke said he realised the importance of health due to his family's history of health issues.

His mother died from cancer due to complications from angina, while his grandparents respectively died from heart disease, and kidney failure.

"I realised a while ago that I didn't have much time", he said.


"I don't smoke, I hardly drink, and I own my own cross fit gym."

He had also facilitated 10,000 children through a CrossFit programme.

Though he felt exercise was important, he thought for Maori the main problem was nutrition.

"Diabetes is the biggest killer for Maori, yet they still sell fizzy drinks for a dollar less than for water."

"Smoking was a big issue with Maori, and the Government put a big emphasis on fixing that issue - they should do the same with food."

When Mr Heke returned to the Bay in 2007, he became one of the 5945 who would increase the region's Maori population from the 2006 census to where it stands today.

In the same period, the region's total population grew by 11,117.

Mr Heke said for him, being Maori was not just about having an understanding of indigenous culture.

"I follow the protocol and etiquette handed down to me by my parents and grandparents.

"Being Maori is about understanding where I come from"

Te Taiwhenua O Tamatea deputy chairwoman Aramanu Ropiha said the Hawke's Bay District Health Board had been focusing on the inequity between Maori and non-Maori health for a while.

"We have a fast-growing population of children ... to ensure the future population is healthy the focus needs to be on whanau - on good parenting."

She said the needs of family didn't fit into the "siloed" nature of government health strategies, and there needed to be another way to support Maori and whanau.

"Local agencies follow their own minister's strategies, but they should be looking at strategies from the Maori community.

"We should be investing into that, not what the government decides is the policy of the day."

Ms Ropiha said people needed to find solutions rather than focusing on the negatives.

Hawke's Bay experienced the biggest decrease nationally in the gap between Maori and non-Maori life expectancy from 2005 to 2007, closing the gap by 1.4 years.

In the same period the region also experienced the biggest increase in life expectancy for both men, up 1.5 years, and women, 1.2 years.

The infographics produced by Minister Craig Foss and Statistics New Zealand (StatsNZ) infographics captured a moment in time, June 30 last year.

In this moment, the region was home to 76,700 men, and 82,200 women - who together constituted 3.5 per cent of the total New Zealand population.

While Mr Foss said he was surprised at the "man drought in Hawke's Bay" the region was not alone.

This was a trend across the nation, where there were an estimated 97 men for every 100 women.

The other national trend appearing in Hawke's Bay was lower life expectancy for men.

Hawke's Bay women had a life expectancy of 82.4 years, 3.8 years more than the men of the region.

However, the life expectancies of those living in Hawke's Bay was lower than the total rest of the country, with women estimated to live to 83.2 years, and men 79.5.