KiwiSaver Basics

What is KiwiSaver?

KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings initiative to help you save for your retirement. Most members will build up their savings through regular contributions from their pay. There are a number of KiwiSaver schemes available which are regulated by the Financial Markets Authority to ensure members’ best interests are looked after. KiwiSaver schemes are managed by KiwiSaver scheme providers.

 

who can join?

You can join the Scheme if you:

  • are a New Zealand citizen or are entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely and;
  • live or normally live in New Zealand (or you are a state services employee working outside New Zealand); and
  • are under the New Zealand superannuation age (currently 65).

You can join the Scheme even if you’re over 65 if you transfer from another KiwiSaver scheme.
You can only belong to one KiwiSaver scheme at a time.

 

what are the benefits?

KiwiSaver has a range of membership benefits:

  • Employer contributions: If you are between 18 and the KiwiSaver retirement age and are working and contributing from your salary, you may be eligible for an employer contribution equal to 3% of your before-tax salary or wages.
  • Government contributions: If you are between 18 and the KiwiSaver retirement age and reside mainly in New Zealand, then you may be eligible for a Government member tax credit contribution of 50 cents for every dollar you contribute, up to $521.43 each year (conditions apply).
  • First home withdrawal: If you are 18 years of age or older and have been a KiwiSaver member for at least three years, and are purchasing your first home you may be eligible to withdraw money from your account to go towards the cost of your home, provided you are intending to live in the home and have never made a first home withdrawal before (conditions apply).

 

Making investments

  • Employee contributions: If you are employed, you can choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your before-tax salary or wages. If you do not select a rate, the default rate of 3% will be applied. Contributions are deducted from your after-tax salary or wages by your employer and paid to Inland Revenue, who will forward the contributions to us.
  • Employer contributions: If you are between 18 and the KiwiSaver retirement age (as defined under the heading ‘withdrawing your investments’ below), and are contributing to the Scheme from your salary or wages, then your employer will contribute at least 3% of your before-tax salary or wages, less employer superannuation contribution tax (ESCT). You can find the ESCT rate at www.ird.govt.nz.
  • Voluntary contributions: If you are self-employed, not working or taking a contributions holiday, or under the age of 18, you can make voluntary contributions at any time. You can also make additional regular or lump sum contributions at any time.
  • Annual Government contribution: If you are aged 18 or over and are contributing to your KiwiSaver account, you will also be eligible for the Member Tax Credit (MTC). The New Zealand Government will pay 50 cents for every dollar of member contribution annually up to a maximum payment of $521.43. This means that you must contribute $1,042.86 annually to qualify for the maximum payment of $521.43. If you join KiwiSaver part-way through a year, your MTC eligibility will be based on the number of days you have been a member.

When you reach the KiwiSaver retirement age, you may continue to keep making contributions; however, the Government will stop contributing and your employer may stop contributing.

 

Withdrawing investments

KiwiSaver is a savings initiative designed to help you with your long-term saving for retirement. As a long-term investment, this means that while the value of your investment may rise and fall in the short-term due to market volatility or currency fluctuations, we focus on achieving steady investment gains in the long-term, which, dependent on your investment horizon (time until retirement) is usually many years. Your KiwiSaver savings will generally be locked in until:
you reach the New Zealand superannuation qualification age (currently 65), and
you've been a member for at least 5 years (if you joined over the age of 60).

You may be able to make an early withdrawal of part (or all) of your savings for one of these reasons:

  • buying your first home
  • moving overseas permanently (other than to Australia)
  • significant financial hardship
  • serious illness
  • for tax or student loan payments you have to make due to a transfer from an overseas superannuation scheme
  • death (your investment will be paid to your personal representatives).

 

No Guarantee

There is no guarantee by the Crown, the Manager or the Supervisor in respect of any KiwiSaver scheme or investment product of a KiwiSaver scheme.