New Zealand Social Development Minister Anne Tolley welcomed the first reading of the Social Assistance Bill, meaning a person who had lived in New Zealand for 10 years, five after the age of 50, would be able to return to Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.
When they turn 65 they can then apply for Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension, she said.
“A declining population, and the related social and economic consequences, is a long-standing issue for small Pacific nations. This Bill will allow a person to return and contribute to the local work force and still get superannuation or Veteran’s pension at age 65.
The change will be restricted to the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau to recognise our close constitutional relationship, shared citizenship, and unique legal arrangements, she said. Immigration data suggests 245 people will become newly eligible for New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension when this Bill is passed, and this is likely to increase by an additional 16 people each year.
“The numbers may be small but New Zealand is a proud Pacific nation and we want to ensure New Zealanders have as much freedom as possible to choose where they live,” she said.
This change is restricted to persons aged 55 and over because, in order to be eligible for New Zealand Superannuation or the Veteran’s Pension, a person must have lived in New Zealand for 10 years since the age of 20, five of which must be after the age of 50. This provision applies to all applicants for New Zealand Superannuation.