National | Retirement

Māori wāhine struggling financially as they retire

The Retirement Commission’s latest survey shows financial difficulties facing elderly Māori in retirement are starting to sink in, with wāhine in an even tougher situation than men.

A Westpac retirement claims “a comfortable retirement means couples must save up to $70,000″. But not many Māori superannuitants achieve this. On average Māori will earn less through their working lives, meaning they have fewer resources to draw on when they retire.

Te Pāti Māori Rotorua candidate Merepeka Raukawa Tait says it grieves her to see kaumātua struggling to live.

“It does make me sad because I know the struggles our kuia and kaumātua had, and they were living and working with their families in an environment, 40 or 50 years ago that was not conducive to the well-being of our whānau.”

The Retirement Commission says women in retirement are worse affected. New research shows 55% of New Zealanders are struggling with their financial situation, with 61% of women saying they are in a difficult position financially compared to 48% of men.

Many struggling

Women aren’t able to save as much as men, receive less pay or leave jobs to care for families in turn decreasing the rate of upskilling in their work over their career.

“If you’re renting, well there are very few discretionary dollars left over for savings and to do anything else to make life just a little bit easier, so you know they’re certainly doing it hard and many of them are struggling right now,” Raukawa Tait says.

Figures show only 35% of the elderly own their own homes, with the majority renters. Raukawa-Tait says elderly Māori need to think about their own future.

Even saving just $50 a week for 40 years would help towards a comfortable retirement.

“To people who are retired, look, if you’ve got money to leave to your children, kai te pai but, if not, spend it on yourself, my goodness you deserve it and, if you want to take that trip, take it; if you want to buy that car, buy it. We’re only here once.”