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Superannuation proposals don’t address Maori poverty

Thursday 29th August 2013

Maori Party says that superannuation proposals don’t address Maori and Pasifika poverty

The Maori Party says that the recently announced superannuation proposals are a good start but do not address the issues of those Maori and Pasifika peoples many of whom already live on low incomes or in poverty. The Maori Party says that MP Peter Dunne’s superannuation proposals don’t take fully into account the lower socio economic status of Maori and Pasifika peoples.

Mr Dunne's plan would allow people to choose to take a reduced rate of NZ Super from the age of 60 up to 65, or an increased rate if they deferred taking up superannuation until after 65 up until the age of 70. If they opt on at age 60, the lower rate will remain fixed throughout their retirement period.

“The Maori Party agrees that the age to be eligible for superannuation should be lowered but the rate should not be reduced. Our elderly are already struggling on $357.42 a week. Reducing it further will send many into poverty during their retiring years,” says Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

Currently life expectancy for Maori men is 72.8 and for Maori women 76.5 compared to non-Maori men 80.2 and non-Maori women 83.7. Under the proposals if you opt to take superannuation at 61 you will receive $279.06 which will remain unchanged. If you wait until you are 69 the rate will be 523.30.

“These circumstances create two specific issues for our peoples. Firstly too many of our people currently fail to make the golden age by which they are eligible to receive superannuation and they are therefore deprived of that universal right. The second is that many elderly Maori currently on superannuation already struggle to live on the current rate of $357 per week. Many have been low income earners all their lives and have not been able to build up savings - so this is their only income. In addition, low income earners who have relied on rental housing all their lives and don’t have a mortgage free home will have to depend on rental housing in retirement.”

“We are also concerned about the large numbers of Maori and Pasifika peoples and others who spend their working lives as labourers, manual workers, forestry and agricultural workers and who most likely will not be able to continue to work in these jobs past sixty years of age because of the physical demands. They should be recognised for their commitment and indeed their service to the community. Retiring at sixty years of age will be necessary for them because for many finding alternative work that requires different skills and experience is often not possible.”


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