Retirement and Welfare
New Zealand has a universal pension called Superannuation or ‘Super’ that is funded out of income taxes. It is a basic benefit and most people will have to save in some way to add to their retirement income.
It is expected the benefit will decrease, made income dependent or be abolished as the number of pensioners grows in the next 10 to 20 years.
There is no compulsory pension scheme in New Zealand. Saving for your pension is your own responsibility. In 2008 KiwiSaver was opened. This is a voluntary pension saver scheme. Employees can opt to have 3, 4 or 8% of their income deposited into the scheme. Employers are required to deposit 3%. At the moment the government also makes a contribution. Although not compulsory, over one third of the population has a KiwiSaver account.
Kiwis genuinely care for other people and have always had a strong commitment to social welfare. For example, New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce pensions for the elderly (1898).
Today, the benefits the New Zealand welfare system provides include:
- Assistance if you lose your job or can’t work because of illness or an accident
- Help with saving for retirement
- Support for older people including New Zealand superannuation (our ‘old age pension’) and other financial and practical assistance
- Support for families including maternity leave when you have a baby and the Working for Families package of benefits
- Assistance if you need help with accommodation.
Welfare for migrants can be limited within the first two years. For 24 months after arrival migrants are not entitled to unemployment benefits but can get weekly allowances for accommodation, children and emergency grants.
The New Zealand government will not let you starve or let you become homeless you are expected to take responsibility for yourself and your family and state assistance should be viewed as a temporary measure and not a way of life.