Pension changes for Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau

By Talisa Kupenga

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that by next year Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau residents can reside in their homelands after the age of 50 and still be eligible for NZ superannuation and veteran’s pension.

Rarotonga Prime Minister Henry Puna welcomed the change which he says was long-awaited.

Puna says “I’m appreciative for the support from New Zealand First and the Labour Party which was made very clear in 2015 and they have delivered in a very short time.”

It’s a move Puna says the prior New Zealand government did not prioritise.

“They thought it would cost too much and they were also, I’m told, afraid of the reaction from other non-realm countries in the Pacific.”

Under current laws you need to work for ten years after the age of 20 and five years after the age of 50 in New Zealand to be eligible, but the five year requirement will be scrapped.

Ardern says, “some of the changes made by the last government around portability actually weren’t drawn down to the full extent that they made available and so there is an under-spend there- which is over what we will be spending to make this policy a reality.”

The first year will cost $3.5mil for around 200 people and should start January.