Seniors Newsletter
  Te Tari Kaumatua | Office for Seniors
From Minister for Seniors Ginny Andersen

Kia ora koutou,
It is a real honour to be the new Minister for Seniors. I’m looking forward to getting out and talking with you and finding out more about your issues and priorities.

As the MP for Hutt South, I have enjoyed developing strong relationships with local senior groups, they always keep me on my toes! I really look forward to expanding these relationships throughout the country.
My focus will be on advancing the priorities of the portfolio and continue to implement the Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua Strategy.
I’m well aware that ‘seniors’ aren’t a group of people who are all the same. Like all our population older people are increasingly diverse and government policies and services need to recognise that.
Over the next few months you will hear more from me and what I hope to achieve in the role during my tenure. I wish the outgoing Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall the very best, she has done an outstanding job in this role and I know she will bring a breadth of experience to her new role as Minister of Health.

Ngā mihi,
Ginny Andersen
Minister for Seniors
Welcome to the first issue of the Seniors newsletter for 2023
In this issue three people were honoured for services to seniors, and we celebrate the contribution they have made to the lives of older New Zealanders.

We're keeping you in the know how on copper withdrawal and how that may affect you.

We’ve announced twelve successful applicants in the latest funding round of the Age friendly fund.

It’s also that time again, Census is back and we give a run down on why we’re legally obliged to take part in the Census and how we can do it.

In this edition we also hear from Dr Suzy Morrissey, Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission Director, Policy on the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies.

We are also pleased to be able to have our new Minister for Seniors, Ginny Andersen introduce herself.

Census banner image
Census 2023
The census gives us the most complete picture of life around the country, and in each of our communities.
As we mentioned in our previous issue, the next census is on Tuesday 7 March 2023. But you can do the census as soon as you get your forms and instructions. Stats NZ will start delivering these in February 2023.

Why we all do the census?

By doing the census, you help create a clearer picture of what you, your family, and your community need. By knowing these needs, government agencies, councils, iwi, community groups and businesses can plan how to respond to them.

Your census answers, combined with everyone else's, help groups like these help us all.

See how data helps our communities. 

Doing the 2023 Census

All of us count. And because the census is so important, the law requires us all to do it. Every person who is in Aotearoa New Zealand on the night of Tuesday 7 March 2023 must take part in the 2023 Census.

Stats NZ will start delivering census forms and instructions in February 2023. You will be able to do the census online or on paper, in English or te reo Māori.

Find out how to do the 2023 Census below:
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Law commission decision making capacity reviewed
Do you or someone you know have affected decision-making? Maybe from dementia, a learning disability, mental distress, or a variety of other reasons. If so, Te Aka Matua o te Ture | the New Zealand Law Commission would like your input.

The Law Commission is reviewing how the law should respond when an adult's decision-making is affected. This includes enduring powers of attorney, advance directives, welfare guardians, and other legal arrangements.

Under current law, if someone with affected decision-making is assessed not to have “decision-making capacity”, their decisions might not have legal effect. Another person may be appointed to make decisions for them. 

They want to hear your experiences and views on how the law could be improved.  To make a submission visit the link below and share your insights by making a submission online.

You can also find alternative submission options as well as our Preliminary Issues Paper and a summary of it in many accessible formats.

Submissions are due by 5pm 3 March 2023.
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Keeping you in the know on copper withdrawal
The way Kiwis connect to landline and broadband services is changing as our online habits evolve and new, more robust and reliable technologies come to light. As such, many of you will have heard about the withdrawal of copper services. For some, this has been concerning with many worried that their landline and broadband – which is often what medical alarms and home security rely on – will be switched off overnight.
The good news is that that won’t happen and in fact, the transition will be gradual and take place over several years. Chorus, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications infrastructure provider, can only withdraw copper services where fibre is available, and only having provided you with plenty of notice too.  While copper has served us well for decades, it is subject to wear and tear and therefore degrades over time. What this transition is doing is future-proofing New Zealand’s connectivity with new and improved technologies.
Fibre broadband, which is now available to 87% of New Zealanders, is the fastest, most reliable type of connectivity and it is able to support our growing telecommunications and broadband needs with plenty of room to spare.
It’s important also to remember that you don’t need to give up your current phone number, landline, or access to broadband – the only thing that will change is the way these are connected and for some, you may be able to choose between several options, including fibre, fixed wireless, HFC cable, or satellite. 
However, if you do not have access to an alternative to copper, perhaps you live in the more remote parts of Aotearoa, you will not be asked to move from your existing service – in fact, nothing will change for you, and Chorus will continue to ensure the copper lines serving you are well maintained.
For more information on the copper switch off, you can refer to this quick fact sheet.
You can also read more about the protections in place for consumers during this transition below:
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Is your broadband working the best it can for you?
The Commerce Commission’s Measuring Broadband New Zealand (MBNZ) programme was first launched in 2007. It monitors and compares the performance of individual broadband providers so that consumers have independent information to help them make informed choices about who to rely on for their connectivity.

The programme produces four reports a year, which help consumers, such as yourselves, understand what performance you can expect from the various providers. They show how well fibre, fixed wireless, copper and other technologies perform for typical uses, including downloading files, video streaming (eg watching movies on Netflix, and other content over the internet), video conferencing (eg calling loved ones using Skype or attending a Zoom meeting) and, if you’ve got grandchildren you’ll be familiar with this one - gaming.

The reports can be viewed here. The Commission also produces a dashboard which shows the key results in more visually friendly format. You to make use of these reports to determine whether you’re getting the best service for your needs from your provider. If you’re thinking of changing provider or technology, they will help you decide which one might be a better fit and give you confidence to make the change.

The Commission is looking to expand the MBNZ programme to cover even newer technologies such as satellite and 5G fixed wireless, across greater and more remote parts of the county. In doing so, the Commission will also be including more providers who operate only in rural locations so consumers in these areas can compare performance and options with their urban counterparts.

In order to do this, they are looking for more volunteers to sign up to the MBNZ programme which simply involves them plugging a device into their broadband connection which will run tests to report on the performance of their service. If you, or someone you know, likes what MBNZ is doing and wants to participate, you can find out more information below:
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Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission Director, Policy – Dr Suzy Morrissey
Since I began my role as Director, Policy for the Retirement Commission two years ago, one thing that has stood out for me is the incredible pace at which the way we live can change.

In 1986, 87% of New Zealanders in their 60s were homeowners, with mortgages paid off, and for the most part were not in paid work. In 2018, 80% of those in their early 60s were homeowners, but 1 in 5 were still paying off mortgages, 20% were paying rent, and many were still in paid work. In many ways, these changes are rewriting the script of how New Zealanders head into retirement.

In December the Commission released the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies – something they do every three years. 

The Review told us three stories of retirement in New Zealand that show retirement does not look the same for everyone.
The first is the story that you may be familiar with – life in a home owned outright, with expectations of a long and healthy retirement. While this was the case for many in the past, it’s not the case for everyone now (about half of retirees), and it will be true for even fewer in the future.

The second is a story struggling to get by in retirement, even where a home is owned outright, generally living just on NZ Super and possibly owning assets but being ‘cash poor’. It is also the story of a short or missed retirement, particularly for Māori and Pacific Peoples, whose life expectancy is shorter than Pākehā.

The third story is an emerging one. It is that of an increasing number of people paying rent – 100% more by 2048 compared to 2018. While this was always the reality for many Māori and Pacific Peoples, it is now the case for a growing number of demographics. It is also the story of continuing to pay a mortgage after age 65 – currently the case for 1 in 5.  Around a third of people over 65 are paying rent or a mortgage.

Many of the reasons for this are deep-rooted and naturally require complex solutions. The Retirement Commissioner has recommended a set of actions for the Government and the financial services industry (along with some for employers and ourselves on other topics!), which will help to create better retirement outcomes for New Zealanders.

The Retirement Commissioner’s key recommendation is to maintain NZ Superannuation at its current settings. The recommendations are a starting point to ensure our retirement income system, and elements of society at large that impact it, are fit for the 21st century.

My hope is that, if actioned, these recommendations will help to ensure older New Zealanders live with the dignity and mana they deserve after many years of hard work and contributing to society.

The Government is expected to respond to the recommendations in the coming year.
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COVID Antiviral medicines
You can get COVID-19 antiviral medicines direct from many pharmacies without a prescription. Antiviral medicines reduce the amount of COVID-19 virus in your body to reduce the chance you get sick enough that you need hospital treatment. To be effective, they must be started within 5 days of becoming ill.

The medicines are free if you’re aged 65 or older, Māori or Pacific aged 50 or older, or you have a severely weakened immune system or certain medical conditions. You can find out if you’re eligible for free antivirals by visiting or by talking to a pharmacist. provides listings of pharmacies that offer antivirals, so you can find one near you.

If you test positive for COVID-19, or live with someone who’s got COVID-19 and you start to feel sick, call the pharmacy rather than going in. The pharmacist can arrange a phone appointment to talk to you about whether antivirals are right for you and how to take them safely. You can have friends or whānau collect the medicine for you, or the pharmacy can have it delivered.
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Cycling into retirement
In this issue we talk to Chrissie Williams, an active senior that is proving retirement can look different for everyone. At the age of 70 Chrissie is a keen cyclist, a passionate environmentalist and a lifelong learner. Born in Central Otago in 1952, it is Christchurch that Chrissie calls home now after living there for 38 years.

A varied educational background, Chrissie had two terms as a City Councillor. During her time with Christchurch City Council she had a number of committee roles in transport, urban development, planning three waters, biodiversity, integrated catchment management, community renewal and housing.

From 2011 to 2019 Chrissie working in earthquake recover, regeneration and urban development as Strategy Advisor in a number of organisation including Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Environment Canterbury, Regenerate Christchurch, and Christchurch City Council.

Chrissie retired from full time work four years ago at age 66, but still lives a full day to day life. An avid cyclist it’s something she has been doing since she was very young.

“I have cycled all through my life. As a child growing up it was how we travelled to school and got around – although I was never allowed to carry my cello on my bike! Through my adult life I have continued to cycle and have been active in the outdoors with tramping, white-water kayaking, sea kayaking and orienteering.”

Some highlights are when Chrissie cycled in Europe for four months, participated in Coast to Coast and represented New Zealand in orienteering in her age group in races against Australia.

“Over recent years I have been enjoying bike packing trips – generally on back roads and gravel roads. Because I need to re-charge the bike battery each day I plan my trips to stay where I have power and a bed with sheets.”

Chrissie is also a passionate environmentalist her interests for the environment and living more sustainably stem from the opportunities she has had in protecting and restoring nature in our urban environment and her active life in outdoor education and recreation.

“Over the years I have built on my science background to better understand natural hazard risks, climate change, sea level rise, ecosystems services, ecological restoration, biodiversity, and wetland and estuarine ecology,”

“Most of the NGOs I have been part of have focussed on the environment and sustainability.”

Over the years since entering retirement, Chrissie has established a more consistent weekly routine with Pilates, fixed coffee dates, swimming sessions, regular walks, as well as other activities.
“I attend most orienteering events Peninsula and Plains Orienteers put on to both participate and help out – orienteering is a labour- intensive sport for volunteers in the club.”

Chrissie’s advice to retirees that are finding it hard to fill their time?

“Three things: Establish some regular activities so that you have some structure to your week; Keep active; Keep learning.”

Interested in cycling? Check out Waka Kotahi's Safe Cycling tips and The BikeReady programme
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Flourishing later in life
The Third Age Foundation is a registered charity focused on ensuring people are able to thrive as they age.  They have a real desire to see a nation of older people who are filled with emotional vitality, living meaningful lives.

Flourishing Groups is an initiative from the Third Age Foundation, that brings people together in small groups to share their experiences of ageing and discuss how they can lead their best later lives.  The Groups discuss topics related to six areas that are seen to be important for thriving; Positivity, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment and Vitality.

Carol Gunn is one of the Group Leaders based in Ashburton. “The Third Age Foundation provide amazing resources. My role is to be familiar with them and lead the discussion with the group. I also organise venues and invitations. I meet with my participants in person monthly which I really enjoy”

When asked what she enjoys most about her role, Carol says it’s learning with the group which always generates great discussion. “It’s rewarding to see people open up as they become more comfortable with the group and see a shift in people’s attitudes.”

Lynne Brown is another group leader but based in Queenstown.

“As a group we’ve enjoyed all the topics. Every topic has sparked interest, healthy discussion, and much ongoing reflection. I’ve found the diversity of responses fascinating and great learning for me.”
“As group leader it’s been wonderful to see the group develop as a whole, and individual members gain confidence to express their ideas. Many of the topics have been totally new to most members, and it’s given them a richer sense of who they are, and what their life means to them.”

“If anyone is curious about how to age in a positive way, one that embraces all the benefits of becoming older and gaining wisdom, this is the place to explore this.”
Lynn says it’s wonderful to meet with other people who have similar focus and pool shared wisdom and experience.

“It’s also a great way to make new friends, especially as we are sharing our ideas at a deeper level than would happen in other social contexts. Because it’s all based on discussion of personal experience, and no one gives advice, it’s a very safe place to share and learn.”

To find out more about Third Age Foundation and Flourishing Groups visit their website below:
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Age friendly fund successful recipients
The Office for Seniors has announced twelve successful applicants in the latest funding round of the Age friendly fund.

The grants of up to $15,000 help fund projects that promote the inclusion and contribution of older people and support their community to become Age friendly.

The successful recipients and projects are:
Atamu EFKS Porirua: Delivering a series of weaving (lalaga) sessions, to offer an opportunity for their older generation to share valuable knowledge about this dying art with younger people and encourage intergenerational engagement in the community.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tamawhariua: Creating a series of kaupapa Māori events for kaumātua and kuia from Te Rereatukahia, Otawhiwhi and Tuapiro Marae. The events will have education, health and intergenerational aspects that kaumātua and kuia will get to learn about.

Presbyterian Support Upper South: Delivering retirement workshops that aim to provide participants with a framework to prepare for retirement. Weekly sessions over a period of six weeks will include topics such as; wellbeing, health, finance, employment and community engagement.

North Otago Art Society: Delivering the Creative Connections programme an initiative to assist in addressing the growing need for support for people living with dementia in the Waitaki District. The program is designed to encourage people with dementia to try new experiences, create new social relationships and engage and be included in the local community.

Manchester House: Connecting Seniornet and Feilding High school students to assist seniors to write their memoirs, with the end result being a book in both digital and hard copy, preserving the senior client’s history for future generations.

Te Whare Toi o Ngaaruawaahia Inc: Creating a suite of cultural programmes for the seniors of Ngaaruawaahia.

Age Concern Auckland: Progressing implementation of the Age Friendly Auckland Action Plan. The grant will enable Age Concern Auckland to identify gaps and opportunities for developing new Age friendly activities and initiatives, and collaborative ways of working.

Alpine Community Trust: Engaging with a researcher to complete a survey and focus groups with older adults to collect data, specifically about living conditions health and social needs in the Upper Clutha region.

Northshore CMA: Engaging with seniors and local stakeholders, to form a steering group to develop and carry out a community age-friendly assessment in the North Shore and Hibiscus Coast areas of Auckland.

Takutai Charitable Trust: Engaging seniors and youth of the Pohutukawa Coast through workshops to help identify and develop an intergenerational activity or event that they would like to organise and participate in.

Age Concern Whangarei: Delivering the Live Alone Senior Service Project. The aim is to provide contact each month with a senior who is living alone, to enhance their health and overall wellbeing.

Cycling Without Age Eastern Bay of Plenty Inc: Carrying out the International Cycling Without Age Movement by providing free recreational outings primarily for older, low mobility residents and others socially isolated by illness and disability in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

For more information on the Age friendly fund projects visit the link below:
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Review of Retirement Villages Act begins in 2023
In 2023 the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, working in partnership with the retirement sector, will begin a review of the Retirement Villages Act. This review will be part of the Ministry’s wider housing work programme and a commitment to creating thriving communities where everyone has a place to call home. 

The Retirement Villages Act 2003 (the Act) sets out obligations for retirement village operators and the rights of residents and anyone considering moving into a retirement village. The Act has two main purposes.
  • protecting the interests of residents and intending residents,  
  • to enable retirement villages to develop under a legal framework that is easy for residents, intending residents, and village operators to understand.  
You can read more about the Retirement Villages Act here

It’s almost been 20 years since the Act and related regulations and codes were introduced and these have not been reviewed since.  The review aims to address issues and strike a balance between the rights and responsibilities of residents and operators of retirement villages. You can find out more about the review below.
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New Year Honours
The New Year Honours recognises the unique achievements of many great New Zealanders from all walks of life. Those who were honoured this year include three people who have made significant contributions to seniors.

Bonnie Robinson was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to seniors and social services. Bonnie has contributed to social service and community work for more than 25 years.

Bonnie is the Chief Executive Officer of HB Living and has been instrumental in establishing one of the first ‘virtual networks in Aotearoa New Zealand. Bonnie has been involved as President of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, a member of the Auckland Council Disability Panel and a Board member of Alzheimer’s Auckland among other community contributions.

Ruth Gerzon was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to community development and social justice. Ruth has worked to promote community development, inclusion and social justice for more than 40 years.

Ruth has been integral to the success of Easter Bay Villages: Te Kokoru Manaaitanaga and a range of community projects such as the Homeshare initiative, Social Enterprise and Digital support programme.

Gavin Nicol has been recognised for his services to veterans and received the Queen Services Medal (QSM). Gavin has supported Returned and Services Association (RSA) veterans and their families for 40 years. Gavin is involved as a Committee Life Member of the Opotiki RSA, the Parish Council of St Johns Opotiki and as Chairman of Chaplaincy at Whakatane Hospital among other community contributions.

You can find out more about the other 2023 New Year Honours recipients below.
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GASPY (Fuel price app – crowdfunded)
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