5 Aug 2015

It's "no for now" to Cook Islanders' pension calls

9:42 am on 5 August 2015

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out a further easing of restrictions on Cook Islands retirees accessing their New Zealand superannuation.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A law change in June enabled Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans to return home from the age of 55 without losing eligibility for the New Zealand pension at the age of 65.

But there has been pressure to lower that age to 50 in order to encourage more people to return, repopulate the islands and invest while they're relatively young.

Mr Key has not ruled out lowering the age but says it won't happen in the next couple of years for financial reasons.

"We passed the law in its current form as a starting point to allow that to happen and we hope it encourages people to come back and spend their time in the Cook Islands either working up until the time they choose to retire, or their retirement years, and it may well get lower but it's not something we can do in the very short term."

Mr Key was speaking after talks with the Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna on a visit to Rarotonga to mark 50 years' of the Cook Islands self government.