Nationwide research underway to reveal what retirement looks like for Māori

Whanau, hapū, iwi and kaumātua from around Aotearoa are being asked to provide their opinions on ‘what retirement looks like for Māori’, as part of the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies.

Kaumātua were being invited to take part in hui in Christchurch, Wellington and Waitangi but given the risks COVID-19 poses these will not go ahead and an online survey is being used to gather insights.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission Kaihautῡ, Dr Kathie Irwin (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rakaipaaka) is leading this research and is calling on Māori to share their views.

“The Māori word for retirement is whakatā, which when translated means ‘relaxing, having a break’. However, what we do know about being a kaumātua, pakeketanga, growing older in Te Ao Māori, is almost the opposite of this sentiment,” says Dr Irwin.

“As elders, kaumātua are regularly called upon to be present at Māori events and gatherings. They are considered kaitiaki of whakapapa, tribal history and custom, and their presence adds mana. Many are busy supporting whānau, the wider community, hapū and iwi or they are still working – and are by no means ‘taking a break’ in their retirement.

“What extra costs do they end up taking on assuming this role? How are they managing on NZ Superannuation, for instance? We want Māori from all stages of life to be part of this kōrero and encourage them to take part in the research.”

The survey findings, along with the wider research being undertaken to support the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies (RRIP), will feed into the Retirement Commissioner’s final report to Government. This report will provide analysis on the effect of retirement income policies for New Zealanders and identify emerging issues for future policy consideration.

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson says the Government has asked that particular focus is given to how current policies impact on the retirement savings outcomes and experiences of Māori as Treaty partners, of Pacific Peoples, and women. Separate projects are underway for the latter groups.

“In general, these three groups tend to arrive at pension age less economically well-off and it’s important that the reasons why are clearly understood from a systems perspective,” she says.  

“The RRIP enables us to surface valuable insights into what retirement looks like for New Zealanders, including Māori, and what their needs are for the future.”

Te Ara Ahunga Ora has just released a paper focusing on the financial wellbeing of Māori, which has taken a deeper dive into the findings of the New Zealand Financial Capability Survey.

This research has analysed the responses of Māori aged between 18 and 85, who scored themselves on various components of financial capability, as well as their preparedness for retirement.

The paper highlights the impact of ethnic pay inequity combined with lower financial inclusion, money management and spending restraint, meaning Māori are missing opportunities to build on assets and savings. Wāhine (consistent with women in general) are even more disadvantaged in their ability to add their own savings to supplement NZ Superannuation in retirement.

Those in the 55+ age group for both tāne and wāhine scored themselves the lowest in their preparedness for retirement. The reasons for low preparedness for retirement scores for Māori are yet to be explored but this age group needs special attention when discussing retirement planning.

The study suggests further work is required to better understand Māori perspectives about their financial capability which will be considered as part of the ground-breaking RRIP work on ‘what does retirement look like for Māori’.



Notes to editors:

Please note, the survey is only for people over 18 and closes 31 March 2022.

About the RRIP

Under the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001, the Retirement Commissioner is required to carry out a Review of Retirement Income Policies (RRIP) every three years. 

Key topics to be focused on for the 2022 review relate to three broad areas comprising New Zealand Superannuation, housing, and private savings including KiwiSaver.  

More information, including the terms of reference, is available here.


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