New Zealanders don’t realise that they are regularly regarded in other countries as world leaders, not just in sport. Inaugural New Zealander of the year in 2010, Ray Avery, points to the ‘never say it can’t be done’ attitude that has produced many astonishing results in science. In social policy too we have often been ahead of world thinking. One very under-trumpeted innovation is our retirement incomes policy, which, along with ACC, is unique on the world stage.
New Zealand Superannuation (NZS), the foundation of New Zealand’s retirement income system, is a universal, pay-as-you- go (PAYG), taxable age pension, partially pre-funded by accumulated assets in the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. Alongside NZS sits KiwiSaver, the world’s first national auto-enrolment saving scheme. New Zealand’s success with the ‘soft compulsion’ of automatic enrolment has been and is continuing to be an influence in the design of opt-out schemes in the UK, Ireland and the United States. Seven years on, this retirement saving scheme both is well accepted by the public and has certain clever design features.
Susan St John is co-director of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre at Auckland University, with research interests in public sector and retirement policy issues.