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Increasing Maori and Pacific savings a priority

12 March 2008 Media Statement

Increasing Maori and Pacific savings a priority

Tens of thousands of Maori and Pacific families have signed up for KiwiSaver, but more needs to be done to improve the savings rate of all New Zealanders.

Research suggests* that in the first six months of KiwiSaver (ending 31 December 2007), Maori and Pacific Island workers represented an estimated 10 and 5 per cent respectively of the total KiwiSaver membership. While these early estimates may have since increased due to a shift towards greater automatic enrolment of KiwiSavers, the government will make lifting Maori and Pacific savings rate a priority.

“KiwiSaver has been a huge success, with nearly 500,000 New Zealanders currently saving for their future through the scheme,” Finance Minister Michael Cullen said. “KiwiSavers are increasingly spread across age groups, income brackets, and ethnicities.

“As I have said previously, we need to do more to improve Maori and Pacific New Zealanders. The initial data suggests this is not just about income levels – an evaluation report to be released tomorrow shows that there are large numbers of low to medium income workers saving through KiwiSaver.”

“Encouraging whanau to save for the future is a priority for this Labour-led government” Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia said. “What we need to do is get out into Maori communities and show whanau the real benefits of saving. Inland Revenue’s targeted advertising campaign is helping to do just that.”

“Pacific Island New Zealanders are over-represented in lower-income brackets, but KiwiSaver is designed to make saving for retirement easier than ever before for all New Zealanders,” Pacific Island Affairs Minister Luamanuvao Winnie Laban said. “Recent government changes, including the option for a 2 per cent contribution rate, need to be better understood in Pacific communities. We are committed to our communities developing a culture of savings that will provide them with a stronger and independent economic base for their families and futures.”

*According to Colmar Brunton survey research. Caution should be taken with the figures due to small sample size

ENDS

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