What can the Treaty of Waitangi teach Australia about reducing disparities in health? The health status of indigenous populations in Australia and New Zealand gives justified cause for concern. After European colonisation, their survival was threatened by a range of infectious diseases to which they had little or no immunity. Though no longer the threat posed in the 19th century, the incidence of infectious diseases remains disproportionately high in indigenous populations,1 and a range of non-communicable chronic diseases has also emerged, including cancers (breast, lung, stomach), mental disorders, youth suicide, alcohol- and drug-related disorders, obesity, obstructive respiratory disease, ischaemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes.2 In both Australia and New Zealand, the incidence of all these conditions is significantly higher in the indigenous population than the non-indigenous population.3 Solutions for indigenous health will depend on a range of factors, most well outside clinical arenas. Consequently, significant gains in health will be unlikely unless there is a concerted intersectoral, whole-of-government approach reflected in practices, legislation and national policies.4