Kaupapahere me te rangahau | Policy and Research

KiwiSaver is a voluntary, opt-out, portable retirement savings scheme that operates mainly through contributions the employer deducts directly from salary and wages and sends to Inland Revenue. (Non-salary and wage earners can also enrol directly with a scheme). 

The OECD refers to retirement income schemes as either tier 1, 2, or 3 schemes based on the objectives they aim to achieve. Tier 1 benefits aim to protect from poverty in old age (NZ Superannuation is classified as a Tier 1 benefit). KiwiSaver is a Tier 3 benefit, a voluntary scheme that aims to raise the individual income replacement rate in retirement. There is no Tier 2 scheme in Aotearoa New Zealand – these are mandatory workplace schemes. 

An introduction to KiwiSaver and how it operates, including enrolment and default providers, and policy settings can be found in our recent policy paper.

KiwiSaver is one form of retirement saving scheme but there are others across the OECD. See how NZ’s retirement income system compares to other countries. Download the paper.

Latest release – KiwiSaver Opportunities for Improvement

We have released a comprehensive analysis on how the current settings for joining, contributing, and withdrawing from KiwiSaver are working. In the paper, the Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson makes 15 recommendations for the Government, as well as several to KiwiSaver providers, the wider financial services industry and employers that could used to improve the scheme. The biggest opportunities for change to KiwiSaver is to increase the default contribution rates by individuals and employer to at least 4%.  

KiwiSaver Balances update 2024

Research conducted by MJW revealed that the average KiwiSaver gender gap has remained at 25% after it increased to this level in 2022 from 20% in 2021. There are significantly more females than males with balances lower than $10,000. This holds for almost all age cohorts. By contrast there are more males than females with balances above $80,000 for almost all age brackets.

KiwiSaver Contributions

Research conducted by the New Zealand Policy Research Institute at AUT revealed a 36% gap between the amount men and women are putting into KiwiSaver each year. The research indicates that this 36% gap is primarily caused by the gender pay gap, rather than a difference in contribution rates, as women and men on average contribute the same percentage of their salaries to KiwiSaver.    

KiwiSaver in the 2022 RRIP

In the 2022 RRIP, Te Ara Ahunga Ora was required to look at the impacts on temporary migrants not being able to contribute to KiwiSaver until their residency status changed. The AUT report found migrants could be missing out on up to $50,000 worth of retirement savings by not being able to access KiwiSaver.

KiwiSaver research from previous RRIPs

A report prepared for the 2019 RRIP provides some insights into KiwiSaver member behaviour as at 2018. Download the report

This commissioned report for the 2019 RRIP looks at ethical investments in KiwiSaver. Download the report

The 2016 RRIP looked at KiwiSaver from a number of perspectives, including surveys, reports and interviews with the public.