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New Zealanders experiencing disability

One in five New Zealanders experiences disability.13 The New Zealand Disability Survey 2001 found that 743,800 New Zealanders had some level of disability. This included an estimated 107,200 Māori and 28,100 Pacific peoples with a disability.

Just over half of New Zealanders with disabilities require disability support services. In 2001, an estimated 432,100 people required some form of disability support. Of these, about 110,700 people received or needed daily help with tasks such as preparing meals, shopping, housework, bathing or dressing (including 22,600 people who lived in residential facilities). A further 321,400 people used or needed an assistive device or equipment and/or help with heavier or more difficult household tasks (including 4,400 people who lived in residential facilities).14

Disability increases with age. The prevalence of disability ranges from 11 percent of children (0–14 years) to 54 percent of people aged 65 years and over.

Table P5 Number and prevalence (%) of people experiencing disabilities (total population residing in households and residential facilities), by age group and sex, 2001

  Males Females Total
Age group (years) Number Rate (%) Number Rate (%) Number Rate (%)
0–14 54,200 13 35,700 9 90,000 11
15–44 88,600 12 114,000 14 202,600 13
45–64 115,800 27 94,800 23 210,600 25
65+ 100,300 51 140,300 56 240,600 54
Total 358,900 20 384,900 20 743,800 20

Source: Statistics New Zealand (2001a) Tables 1.01a, 1.02a

Many New Zealanders experiencing disability face barriers to full participation in society. The New Zealand Disability Survey 2001 found that 39 percent of disabled adults aged 15 years and over living in households had no educational qualification, compared to 24 percent of non-disabled adults. More than half (56 percent) of adults aged 15 years and over with disabilities had a gross personal income of less than $15,000, compared to 40 percent of non-disabled adults. Fifty-seven percent of 15–64 year olds with a disability were employed, compared with 71 percent of non-disabled 15–64 year olds.15