The CIP government has been active this term in trying to convince NZ to relax this qualifying criteria. This matter is brought up at every joint ministerial meeting. Last year the NZ government announced that the third additional qualifying criteria of one year residency immediately prior to turning 65 will be removed by legislative amendment in the NZ Parliament. This is a step in the right direction. This means that once a person turns 55 years of age they can return to the Cook Islands and will qualify for the NZ pension without having to go back for the year before they turn 65.
Our discussions with NZ ministers and officials have now centred around relaxing the criteria for five years residency in NZ after the age of 50 years. A number of compelling arguments have been put forward by the Government, including the reasons stated by your correspondent yesterday. We have also been advised that another avenue for pushing our case is to make representations to the NZ Parliamentary Select Committee that is currently reviewing this proposed legislation amendment. The Government will be preparing a ministerial delegation to be supported by key NZ- based Cook Islanders to present our case before the Select Committee.
If this residency criteria can be relaxed it will mean our Lost Tribe members will finally be able to apply for NZ pension without having to go back to NZ and serve their time of five years just to qualify.