2022 Arotake o ngā Kaupapahere Moniwhiwhi Ahungarua 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies

Kaupapahere me te rangahau | Policy and Research

The Retirement Commissioner is required by law to carry out a Review of Retirement Income Policies (RRIP) every three years in response to terms of reference set by the Government.

For the 2022 RRIP we have been asked to undertake research relating to three broad areas comprising New Zealand Superannuation, housing and private savings including a focus on decumulation and KiwiSaver.

All New Zealanders with an interest in retirement income policies are invited to make a submission on any aspect covered by the Terms of Reference for the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies.


 1. An update and commentary on the developments and emerging trends in retirement income policy since the 2019 review, both within New Zealand and internationally. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) will provide updates on KiwiSaver and New Zealand Superannuation since the last review in 2019.

The OECD publication ‘Pensions at a Glance’ 2021 provides an update on international developments and emerging trends (available here).

We are undertaking qualitative research to produce a ‘Voices of Older New Zealanders’ report. Dr Jo Gamble is conducting focus groups with older people in various locations across the country to gain a deeper understanding of people’s experience in retirement (from a retirement incomes perspective). This report will be released in July.

2. The impact of government policy on the retirement savings outcomes and experiences of Māori as Treaty partners, and of Pacific Peoples and women.

We are undertaking qualitative research to understand ‘What does retirement look for Māori?’ We had planned to hold hui to hear directly from Māori about what retirement looks like for Māori. However, the impacts from COVID-19 meant those hui were not able to be held. Dr Kathie Irwin instead invited Māori to complete an online survey, and asked people to address the focus questions the hui would have explored. Analysis of these findings will be included in her research report.

The Ministry of Pacific Peoples is interviewing people from nine Pacific backgrounds to research ‘What does retirement look for Pacific Peoples?’. Research will take the form of talanoa (conversation) with the participants and their extended families in a number of regions throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, including Auckland, Hamilton/Tokoroa, Wellington and the South Island and will result in a report.

We are also undertaking research on ‘What does retirement look for women?’. Dr Suzy Morrissey (Director, Policy) is preparing a report that examines women’s current situation in retirement and investigates some of the causes (such as gender and ethnic pay gaps and the gender segregation of the labour market). The report will also apply a number of wellbeing frameworks to assess women’s wellbeing in retirement.

All reports will be available here in July.

3. Ensuring the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies has sufficient use of distributional analysis, cultural and gender lenses to understand the different impacts of retirement policies across New Zealand.

We will ensure this is undertaken across all the research, analysis, and recommendations.

Dr Kathie Irwin has written and commissioned a series of technical papers to assist in this regard. They are as follows:

  • Paper One Decolonising Public Policy: The Galaxy, The Gavel and The Gun by Dr Kathie Irwin
  • Paper Two: Literature Review of Published Research by Dr Margaret Kempton
  • Paper Three: Māori Demography 2040 by Len Cook
  • Paper Four: What the people said, about ‘what retirement looks like for Māori’ by Dr Kathie Irwin (this paper is referred to under Term of Reference 2).


4. New non-government initiatives to encourage people to save in a complex COVID environment, in collaboration with the private sector.

We are working with our National Strategy for Financial Capability partners and other private sector representatives to consider new initiatives to encourage people to save. 


5. Policy considerations (including design and product availability) for decumulation of retirement savings from KiwiSaver and other retirement savings schemes and assets after reaching the age of NZ Super eligibility.

We are undertaking work to distil prior decumulation research (both overseas and local) into specific policy considerations for Aotearoa New Zealand. As part of this work, Dr Michelle Reyers is also focusing on understanding the magnitude of current and future decumulation need, using insights obtained from new data. Her report will be released in July.

6. Policy considerations arising from the exclusion of people from KiwiSaver who hold temporary, visitor, work or student visas.

The New Zealand Work Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology is utilising the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to investigate how inbound migrants become eligible for and members of KiwiSaver.

The research covers three areas. The first is the size of the population who experience KiwiSaver ineligibility, which will be determined by examining a particular cohort of inbound migrants on arrival (in 2009) and over 10 years (to 2019), tracking whether they remain in New Zealand and their visa status (whether they have moved from a temporary visa to a resident class visa). The research will reveal demographic details (age, sex, nationality and ethnicity) of this cohort. The final element of the research is to determine if and when people in the study cohort joined KiwiSaver, and to compare the enrolment rate to those migrants arriving in 2009 on a resident class visa.

This research will help clarify the period of time spent on temporary visas (potentially a ‘lost’ period of saving for retirement) and the ‘adoption rate’ of KiwiSaver by new migrants and will inform our consideration of recommendations to change policy settings.

This project is led by Professor Gail Pacheco, Professor of Economics, and Director of the NZWRI, with a team consisting of Associate Director of the NZWRI, Lisa Meehan, and Researcher Livvy Mitchell.

NZ Super

7. Income adequacy of NZ Super for future retirees who are renting a home or do not own their own home outright.

The Treasury is undertaking work on the income adequacy of New Zealand Superannuation for renters and those with mortgages. We are looking to understand the extent to which NZ Super covers the costs of rent or cost of home ownership, and how various factors, such as people buying houses later in life, lower levels of home ownership, and larger mortgages that may not be paid off before a person retires, impact on the ability to cover housing costs in retirement using New Zealand Superannuation. Dr Luke Symes is leading this work.

8. The impact on retirement income adequacy, and retirement planning for New Zealanders who live abroad, of the proposed change to a 20-year residency eligibility period for NZ Super.

The New Zealand Work Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology is utilising the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to investigate how the upcoming residence change to eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation might impact Kiwis who spend time working overseas.

The research will track three cohorts of New Zealanders who leave to go overseas for at least a year.  Of those departures in 1998, the research will identify the period of time spent overseas (up to 5, 10, 15, and 20 years).  The research will also track emigration of New Zealanders in 2005 and 2010 and their emigrant or returned status as at 2019.

This research will provide the greatest detail for one cohort only, and departures in other years may have been different (in quantum or destination country), and it relies on the information on departure cards (that would not capture any subsequent move to another country).  However, despite these caveats, the research will provide a summary of destinations (that we can compare to the list of countries with whom we have a social security agreement) and details of the duration of absence (to consider whether the need to spend 20 years in New Zealand will make many people ineligible for NZ Super).

These outputs will help clarify the impact on New Zealanders of the change to the NZ Super policy settings.

This project is led by Professor Gail Pacheco, Professor of Economics, and Director of the NZWRI, with a team consisting of Associate Director of the NZWRI, Lisa Meehan, and Researcher Livvy Mitchell.


9. How diverse housing options for seniors would have different impacts on pre-retirement savings and retirement income. The work should be complementary to that undertaken by the Office for Seniors and other relevant agencies.

The Ministry of Pacific Peoples is interviewing people from nine Pacific backgrounds, in two age groups, to understand their housing experiences and preferences, before and after retirement, focusing on those who live in multi-generational housing arrangements.

The James Henare Māori Centre at the University of Auckland is conducting research on the housing experiences of older Māori. This project is led by Dr Marama Muru-Lanning, Director of the Centre.

Dr Jo Gamble is surveying pre-retirees on their housing preferences and how this impacts their current savings. She is also conducting qualitative interviews with people who live in co-housing arrangements, to better understand their income sources and areas of expense relating to housing.

2022 Review Topics