28 Oct 2011

Labour's super policy 'will disadvantage Maori'

11:47 am on 28 October 2011

The director of Massey University's Research Centre for Maori Health and Development believes the Labour Party's policy on raising the superannuation age will disadvantage Maori.

Under the policy announced on Thursday, the age of entitlement would rise gradually, starting in 2020 and hitting age 67 by 2033, affecting more than 2 million people of working age.

A transitional payment at the same rate as superannuation would be available to people who could not continue to work past 65.

Professor Chris Cunningham says Maori and Pacific people have shorter life expectancies and use the pension for less time - especially men who only draw it for an average of five years.

He told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme there are more Maori workers than superannuitants compared with other population groups.

Professor Cunningham suggests Maori should contribute less and be eligible for superannuation earlier. This is already happening in areas of health, such as breast screening, and with iwi-based superannuation schemes, he says.

"Ngai Tahu are running a superannuation scheme for their members and the age of eligibility for that is 60 years of age. It recognises that the total amount of money you will end up paying a Maori superannuiant is smaller because of a shorter life expectancy."