Babies born in the Pacific are up to seven times more likely to die in their first month of life than babies in New Zealand, new United Nations research has found.
But New Zealand can play a big part in cutting mortality rates, according to Unicef.
The charity is calling for New Zealand to pitch in with donations and more aid money for its Pacific Island neighbours, to improve access to health facilities and workers as well as basic resources for birth and infant care.
Kiwi babies have excellent chances of surviving their first month, Unicef said. Three out of every 1000 New Zealand babies die before their first month is up, according to the UN's analysis.
But amongst New Zealand's nearest neighbours, Kiribati has the highest rate of deaths per 1000 live births (22.6) followed by Vanuatu (11.8), Fiji (8.8), Samoa (9.2) and Tonga (6.8).
For a high-income country, New Zealand's rankings are average. We are 36th in the world rankings - behind most European countries, Australia (2.2 deaths per 1000 babies) and Japan (0.9 deaths), but ahead of Denmark (3.2), Canada (3.2) and the United States (3.7).
In high income countries, the average death rate is 3 in 1000, while in low income countries 27 babies die in their first month. Pakistan is the riskiest place to be born, with 46 babies out of every 1000 dying before the end of their first month.
National mortality rates often mask variations within countries, Unicef said. For example, globally babies born to the poorest families are more than 40 per cent more likely to die during the newborn period than those born to the least poor.
More than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are preventable, according to Unicef, with most dying due to premature birth, complications during labour, or infections such as pneumonia.
Such deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding instruction, and good nutrition.
Unicef NZ's executive director Vivien Maidaborn said babies born in New Zealand get "a great start at life".
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could share our knowledge and resources so that all babies, including those born throughout the Pacific, get the same great chances?"
Unicef pointed out Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters recently indicated he wanted New Zealand's international aid contribution to increase, Maidaborn said.
"For a relatively small amount of money, New Zealand can save the lives of babies throughout the Pacific. I can't imagine any New Zealander would object to that."