No Support for NZ Pension Portability
In one of our earlier posts, we had attempted to correct a misconception by the Premier with regard to the portability of the New Zealand pension as proposed for Niue, Cook Islands and Tokelau.
Here’s what we wrote:
Listeners may have been left with the impression, following the Premier’s comments, that anyone living on Niue who is a NZ citizen and who turns 65 can receive the New Zealand pension. Not quite that simple; there is still a NZ residency requirement to be fulfilled.
Premier Talagi has now taken to social media to say that he has withdrawn his and his government’s support for the proposed changes. To recap – with the assistance from the NZ High Commissioner to Niue – the current situation is that, in order to qualify to receive a NZ Superannuation here in Niue, a person must have lived in NZ for 10 years after the age of 20 and that 5 of those years must be since turning 50. At the age of 65 a person can apply to receive NZS on the island.
The proposal is not to change the basic residency requirement but the 5 year requirement after turning 50. The change being proposed means that a person can be resident and present in New Zealand, Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau (or a combination of these) for 5 years after the age of 50. In plain English, let’s say that you have been living and working in NZ since the age of 20.
At the age of 45 you decided to return and live on the island. Under the current legislation you’re not eligible to receive NZS when you turn 65 – despite the fact that you’ve spent 25 years of your life working on the mainland. The only way that you can qualify for NZS is to return there after you’ve turned 50 and live there for 5 years. Having fulfilled that part of the residency requirement, you can return to the island, bide your time until you turn 65 years of age and apply for NZS.
The new proposal is to do away with having to return to live in NZ for 5 years after turning 50; a person can do this in Niue, Cook Islands or Tokelau.
Premier Talagi’s preference is for NZS to be payable to anyone who is a NZ citizen living on the island at the age of 65. The present policy according to him is unfair to those who want to stay and build the island. He also claims that younger people might want to move to New Zealand to be eligible for NZS.
Meantime, the NZ Parliament has just completed the first stage of a bill to amend the legislation to allow the proposed change to take place. The Premier’s decision to withdraw his government’s support is not likely to have any effect on the policy makers at the Beehive.
Thus far neither the Cook Islands nor Tokelau have followed Niue’s lead. Clearly though the island’s Premier has signalled his intentions of pushing the boundaries and taking his government where none had dared before. Equally clearly, he needs to take along his people with him and not just his admirers.