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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.

Constraints

While our legislative mandate gives us considerable freedom to invest the Fund how we see fit, there are some important constraints and restrictions in place.

Legislative constraints

  • The Guardians are prevented from controlling any other entity (other than Crown entity subsidiaries or Fund investment vehicles). For example, we cannot hold a controlling interest in an operating company;
  • Except with the permission of the Minister of Finance, the Guardians are not permitted to borrow, mortgage the Fund's property, or to place a liability or contingent liability on the Fund or the Crown;
  • The Minister of Finance can give directions to the Guardians regarding the Government’s expectations as to the Fund’s performance, including the Government’s expectations as to risk and return. The Minister cannot give a direction that is inconsistent with the Guardians’ duty to invest the Fund on a prudent, commercial basis, and cannot direct the Guardians in regard to any other matter.

Board-imposed controls

Our Board-approved investment policies place further controls over the Guardians' management of the Fund. These controls include restrictions on:

  • single asset concentration (e.g. one company)
  • concentration with one investment manager
  • actual portfolio risk.

Exclusions

In line with our Responsible Investment Framework, a small number of business sectors and companies have been excluded from the Fund. See our Exclusions page for more information. 

Contributions Suspension

Government contributions to the Super Fund were suspended between 2009 and 2017. In December 2017 contributions resumed, with full funding as per the formula in the Act projected to begin from 2022. The Government's full statement on the resumption of contributions is available to read here, and the Guardians' statement can be read here.

What impact has the suspension of Government contributions had on the Fund?

The table below summarises the capital contributions and Fund returns as at 30 June 2019, both with and without the capital contributions suspension. The calculation. the methodology of which has been agreed with Treasury, uses publicly available Treasury material for all of the necessary data, including capital contributions, fund returns, and government debt instrument yields. It assumes that the same investment choices would have been made had contributions not been stopped; and that opportunities to add value would have been perfectly scalable.

 

Purpose & Mandate - Contribution Suspension

As at 30 June 2019

Fund Size (net of NZ tax)

Excess return since inception (return relative to Treasury Bills)

Excess return since inception (Return relative to Treasury Bills + 2.7% (Prior to 1 July 2015, + 2.5%))

A - With capital contributions since July 2009 as per s43* Estimated $69.3 billion Estimated $37.5 billion Estimated $27.2 billion
B - Actual Fund Performance (i.e., without capital contributions since July 2009) Actual $43.1 billion Actual $25.3 billion Actual $17.4 billion
Difference (A - B) $26.2 billion $12.3 billion $9.9 billion

 

* Assuming additional contributions would have earned the same return as the actual Fund did over this period.

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* Assuming additional contributions would have earned the same return as the actual Fund did over this period.

 
 
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