Purpose and Mandate

All New Zealanders aged 65 and over receive New Zealand Superannuation payments (also known as the pension, National Super or Super). These payments are paid for by today’s taxpayers. Over the next few decades, however, the New Zealand population will age significantly.

Statistics New Zealand predicts that the population aged 65 years and over will surpass one million by the late 2020s, compared with 550,000 in 2009. The 65+ age group will also grow as a proportion of New Zealand's total population, increasing from 13% in 2009 to more than 20% by the late 2020s.  By the late 2050s, one in every four New Zealanders will be 65 years or older.

This means New Zealand will have:

  • more people of retirement age, as a proportion of the population, than ever before; and
  • fewer 'working-age' people to pay tax to fund the greater cost of retirement income.

These projections have significant implications for the ability of future Governments to fund not just a universal superannuation benefit, but other vital areas such as health, welfare, education and law enforcement.

Legislation

In response to the challenge of New Zealand's ageing population, the NZ Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 established:

  • the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, a pool of assets on the Crown’s balance sheet; and
  • the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, a Crown entity charged with managing the Fund.

The Government uses the Fund to save now in order to help pay for the future cost of providing universal superannuation. In this way the Fund helps smooth the cost of superannuation between today's taxpayers and future generations.

The Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation is the Crown entity charged with managing and administering the Fund. It operates by investing initial Government contributions – and returns generated from these investments – in New Zealand and internationally, in order to grow the size of the Fund over the long term.

Government contributions to the Super Fund were suspended between 2009 and 2017. In December 2017 contributions resumed, with an initial payment of $500 million planned for the financial year to 2018. From around 2035/36, the Government will begin to withdraw money from the Fund to help pay for New Zealand Superannuation. The Fund will continue to grow until it peaks in size in 2070s.

The Fund is therefore a long-term, growth-oriented, global investment fund.

Mandate

Under the Act, the Guardians must invest the Fund on a prudent, commercial basis and, in doing so, must manage and administer the Fund in a manner consistent with:

  • best practice portfolio management;
  • maximising return without undue risk to the Fund as a whole; and
  • avoiding prejudice to New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community.

Funding Model

For further information, including the Treasury model used to calculate Government contributions, and projections of future Fund size, please refer to the Treasury website.

To find out more:

Find out more about the Guardians and Fund in our Frequently Asked Questions section.