Seniors Newsletter
  Te Tari Kaumatua | Office for Seniors
From Minister for Seniors Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall

Welcome to this issue of our Seniors newsletter. Spring has officially arrived and I hope you are enjoying some warmer weather.

There were many events and activities held over this past weekend to celebrate and acknowledge the United Nations International Day of Older Persons on 1 October.

This year’s theme focuses on the resilience and contributions of older people in a changing world and serves as an annual reminder of the value of older people in our communities and a chance to celebrate their significant contribution.

There are so many New Zealanders that continue to contribute meaningful work across their communities well beyond retirement.

Our Older Workers Employment Action Plan is one way we have been supporting people to find and stay in work in later life as well as ensuring employers are more inclusive of older workers and their needs.

We recently removed most of our COVID-19 restrictions as it was safe to do so and cases, hospitalisations have fallen significantly. The last few years have been challenging in many ways and we seem to be through the worst. One consequence of the pandemic has been our sense of community and connection has been tested.

We know strong social connections help build resilience. Now that our COVID restrictions have eased, it’s a good time to look to ways to reconnect. It may be as simple as starting a conversation with someone new or reaching out to old friends

If you have the time and the energy to contribute to your community, there are some great tips on how to do so in this issue. Our focus on the Rotorua Multicultural Council shows the vital work this community driven group is doing to help people connect and support new migrants integrating into New Zealand life. 

You’ll also get the chance to read about some other inspiring mahi (work) happening across New Zealand. 

It’s good to see Land, Search & Rescue New Zealand have developed the Safer Walking Framework to reduce the risk of people that get lost or go missing. And Home Share for Her is a Nelson charity that connects women with homes, resources, and companionship. 

On a final note, there are still some COVID 19 rules in place to help protect those people in higher risk settings. Face masks are still required when visiting healthcare and healthcare support services, including residential care for older people and people with disabilities. More guidance can be found in the COVID-19 story below.
The power of many
The virtuous circle of volunteerism and how expanding your networks can build a better later life.

New migrants and older people in New Zealand face some similar challenges we have discovered in an interview with Dr Margriet Theron ONZM, President of the Rotorua Multicultural Council.

Transitioning out of paid employment may lead to lost networks and social connection, or the need to establish a new sense of purpose.

Margriet observes that volunteering and helping people embrace a new life here can be very rewarding. “It will enrich your life. Whatever migrant community or family you connect with, you will share and learn. You will receive friendship, gratitude, and a greater understanding of another culture."

Rotorua Multicultural Council, one of 25 regional Multicultural Councils operating in Aotearoa, is striving to make migrants feel ‘at home’ in their community. They support and connect over 64 different ethnicities and their guiding principle is collaboration.

Margriet is a leader in this endeavour and has first-hand experience of the challenges new migrants face, relocating to New Zealand in 1978 with a young family.

Building on this experience Margriet has steered the growth of the Rotorua Multicultural Council. They co-create, collaborate and host a range of courses, celebrations, and events as diverse as the communities they serve - supported by interest groups and the generosity of volunteers.

From adopt a grandparent, professional speaking courses, multicultural lunches, and raranga (traditional Māori flax weaving) classes, through to environmental and women’s wellbeing programmes, and supporting families in need. Everyone in the community is welcome.

“One of our strengths here in New Zealand is our connectedness. This is where women can look around and reach out to new migrant families in their communities. It’s the simple things. Talk to them. Ask about their children. Is there anything I can do? You don’t need skills, just kindness. Share some baking, offer to mind the children, let them walk through your garden and take some plants,” Margriet says.

Search the Community Directory on the  Citizens Advice Bureau website for volunteering opportunities in your local community. See the 'Learn more' button below. 
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International Day of Older Persons
Resilience of older people in a changing world

It’s fitting that the focus of this year’s United Nations International Day of Older Persons is building resilience. Over the last couple of years, we’ve all learned how important friendships and supportive relationships are to our health and wellbeing. Now is a great time to rebuild that sense of community and connections lost.

Here are some practical tips to help you connect with others:
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while
  • Reach out to someone new in your community
  • Join in – take up a new activity or learn something new
  • Join an interest group in your area, like community gardening or a book club
  • Volunteer your time or knowledge – reach out to a community service provider or charity that’s close to your heart. Volunteering NZ website has great information on community volunteering opportunities. See the 'Learn more' button below.
‘Share your stories’ … we’d love to hear what you or your community are doing to build social connections. Send us an email at
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It’s time to hear from our Takatāpui and Rainbow communities
We know that one in ten older people experience some kind of elder abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand. What we don’t understand enough about is how much of that abuse is experienced by our takatāpui and rainbow elders.

Takatāpui is a traditional Māori term meaning ‘intimate companion of the same sex.’ It embraces all people who identify with diverse genders, sexualities, and sex characteristics.

To understand more about the specific wellbeing needs of takatāpui and rainbow elders, an online survey - Elder Voices - has been developed. The survey is open to everyone over 55 who knows they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, non-binary, intersex or takatāpui. You do not need to be “out” to take part.

Takatāpui and rainbow elders grew up when homosexuality was still illegal, and many will have fears around acceptance. Some may have disconnected from families, including older generations and adult children, which impacts on the support systems available to them.

The survey will take around 10 – 20 minutes to complete and you can find it at this link. The survey is open until 20 December 2022. The survey is confidential and anonymous – your name will not be asked.
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Supporting people who go missing
Are you, or someone you know, concerned about getting lost or going missing when out and about in the community?

The good news is you are not alone, and there are lots of things you can do to reduce the risk of going missing, while still maintaining your freedom to live a healthy active life in the community.

The Safer Walking Framework, an initiative delivered by Land Search & Rescue New Zealand, aims to support, educate and reduce the risk of people getting lost or going missing due to cognitive impairment. 

The Safer Walking website has a wealth of information, including different tools, ideas and strategies that can be tried to reduce this risk, from completing a Safer Walking Profile to things you can try in the home environment. The website also includes links to relevant websites and organisations that you may find helpful to contact for support and advice.

Land Search & Rescue has also produced a video series of New Zealanders telling their own stories of going missing. The stories show how having plans and making use of technology, like Global Positioning System (GPS) location devices, can enable people at risk to be out and about, while providing peace of mind for their whānau if they go missing. Check out their stories here.
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Setting up an Enduring Power of Attorney: easier than you think
Have you thought about who will make decisions for you if you can’t decide for yourself? What happens when you can’t manage your affairs if you’re in an accident or you become really ill?

Setting up an enduring power of attorney (EPA) means someone you trust - called your “attorney” - will legally be able to make decisions about your finances, your property, and your care and welfare if you are not able to.

If you don’t have an EPA, managing your affairs can be a time-consuming and expensive process for your whānau (family). It will include making an application to the Family Court, which can take up to 4 months. Setting up an EPA when you don’t need it, can save you and your family time and stress when you do.

There are two types of EPAs: property (financial assets) and personal care and welfare (care, health and living arrangements if a medical professional or Family Court decides you are “mentally incapable”).

People often choose a family member or close friend as an attorney. You can choose anyone (over 20 years old) who knows you well and you trust to make decisions for you.

Appointing an EPA must be done through a lawyer or a Trustee Corporation, such as The Public Trust. Some lawyers offer a SuperGold discount - search “lawyer” on the SuperGold website to find one in your area.

Some community law centres also prepare enduring powers for a small charge.

Because EPAs end on death, it’s also important that you have a will. Organising your EPA when you make your will can help save on costs.

Setting up an EPA might be easier than you think. Check out our handy set up checklist of things you need to think about before setting up an EPA. See the 'Learn more' button below.
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Improving lives of disabled people: Have your say
The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill (the Bill) has passed its first reading in Parliament. It is now before the Select Committee and you can submit feedback on the Bill by Monday 7 November 2022.

The Bill establishes a new legislative framework. It aims to provide a consistent way of addressing systemic accessibility barriers that prevent disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori and their families or whānau, and others with accessibility needs from living independently and participating in all areas of life. The Bill also aims to ensure that disability issues are front of mind in decisions by policy makers and the Government of the day.

The Bill would do three main things:
  • It would establish a Ministerial Advisory Committee of up to 10 people (called the Accessibility Committee) to make recommendations to the Minister for Disability Issues about how to address accessibility barriers and grow accessibility practices across New Zealand
  • It would enhance accountability and co-ordination across the Public Service and Government to progress accessibility issues by creating clear responsibilities for the Minister for Disability Issues, the chief executive of Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, and the Accessibility Committee
  • It would build knowledge and awareness about the importance of addressing accessibility barriers.
This legislation will build on and support the work of Whaikaha – the Ministry of Disabled People, launched in July 2022.

You can find out more in this press release, information on how to submit here, or visit the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill submissions page below.
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COVID-19 response: the next phase
Public health experts say it is now safe to remove most COVID-19 rules so, from mid-September, New Zealand’s COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) ended.

Antiviral medicines are now available to treat early COVID-19 at home for people at risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19, including:
  • any New Zealander aged 65 or older
  • Māori and Pacific peoples aged 50 or older
  • anyone with 3 high-risk conditions.
Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters as they provide an extra layer of protection. If you’ve had COVID-19, you can get vaccinated 3 months after you tested positive. Book your vaccination or booster here.

While many of us look forward to enjoying more freedom, it is vital that people at higher risk of severe illness are safe. For more information, see the 'Learn more' button below.
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AARP visits Aotearoa
A team from AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) visited Aotearoa New Zealand last month to learn from our experiences of supporting and advocating for older people and to share their insights.

With a membership in the United States of almost 38 million, the AARP publishes the most widely read magazine in the world.

During their time here they met with a wide range of people including community organisations, researchers, and government officials across seven towns and cities.

The team visited Mata Close House in Tahunanui, run by Abbeyfield New Zealand who provide supported, affordable shared housing for older people, who can enjoy the company of others while retaining their independence.

They also learned about Home Share for Her, a Nelson charity that connects women with homes, to women who need homes. As co-founder, Chloe Howorth, explains “There are many women living alone not ready to downsize their family home who would welcome some help and company. And single women wanting to share housing and companionship.”

AARP will produce a special feature on Aotearoa New Zealand for their international periodical, The Journal. We look forward to sharing their insights with you once they are published.
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Eldernet Group celebrates turning 25
Back in 1997, Eleanor Bodger QSO, co-founder and leader of Eldernet, saw a need to provide information for older people to enable them, their families, and people working in the aged-care sector, to make more informed choices.

Eldernet became one of New Zealand’s first websites helping older people to navigate the ageing journey – and all the ups and downs along the way.

“Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen people become empowered with information in ways we never thought possible, and what we are particularly proud of is the way we haven’t waivered from our vision of making life easier and better for all older people,” says Eleanor.

Following the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes Eldernet shared their resources and systems with the Canterbury District Health Board, helping with post-quake support.

Eldernet’s website has loads of helpful, practical resources including a comprehensive directory of services. Their Knowledge lab has answers to questions you’d never thought to ask! You can order a printed copy of their ‘Where from here’ handbook free from their website or by phoning 0800 162 706.

He tino pai tō mahi (great work) team Eldernet and we wish you all the best for the next 25 years! For more information on Eldernet, see the 'Learn more' button below.
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Get ready to ShakeOut on 27 October
ShakeOut is our national earthquake drill and takes place this year on Thursday 27 October at 9:30am. We join millions of people around the world who will take part in earthquake drills at work, school, or home.

ShakeOut is a great opportunity to learn and practise the correct actions to take during an earthquake. You can also practice a tsunami hīkoi (evacuation walk) if you're in a coastal area.

Drop, Cover and Hold is the right action to take in an earthquake but if you have difficulty getting onto the ground, or cannot get back up without help, you can also:
  • Sit, Cover and Hold – sit on a chair or bed and cover your head and neck with both hands
  • Stay, Cover and Hold – if you are in bed, stay there, hold on, and protect your head with a pillow
  • Lock, Cover and Hold – if you use a walker, lock your wheels, sit on the seat, and cover your head and neck with both hands.
For more information about ShakeOut, visit the National Emergency Management Agency’s website below. See the 'Learn more' button below.
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Winter Energy Payment 
The Winter Energy Payment has ended for this year. You’ll receive four days of Winter Energy Payment with your 11 October 2022 payment.

If you have any concerns about how you’ll manage without it, there may be other ways Work and Income can help. Use the online eligibility tool to check what you might be able to get or call the Work and Income Seniors team on 0800 552 002. Everyone’s situation is different, so they’re always happy to talk with you.

If you qualify for the Winter Energy Payment next year, you’ll get it automatically from 1 May until 1 October 2023.

The Work and Income website has more information. See the 'Learn more' button below.
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