"Closing the Gaps" was the name given to an official New Zealand government policy of assisting socially disadvantaged ethnic groups, particularly Māori and Pacific Islanders, through specially targeted social programmes. The phrase came to prominence as a slogan of the Labour Party in the year 1999 election.
Shortly after the Labour Party came to power in late 1999, the term quietly disappeared from current official documents. Opposition politicians observed that the new government still had a "Closing the Gaps" policy objective, but no longer referred to the policy by that name.
In June, 2000, Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party, described the program as "social apartheid".
Over the term of the 1999–2008 Labour government, social statistics for Maori and Pacific islanders did generally improve; however, the statistics for white New Zealanders showed a greater improvement, resulting in the 'gaps' actually increasing. In health, such changes were observed by the Ministry of Health and Otago University's series of 'Decades of Disparities' reports.