Midst all the benefit debates we’re having at the moment, and despite evidence our current situation is unaffordable, John Key has held firm on not raising the age we can receive superannuation. New Zealand doesn’t agree, with other political parties saying we need to have the discussion about raising the threshold age to 67 – and that this should not be a party-political issue.
If we raise the threshold age to 67, Maori men will be eligible for Super for three years, and Maori women for eight. Non-Maori men on the other hand, will be grabbing hold of this universal benefit for 12 years, and non-Maori women for 15 years.
So non-Maori live just over eight years longer than Maori. The gap has lessened in the last 70 years, but reports on early contact between Maori and Europeans suggest Maori had a higher life expectancy than the British around the time of Captain Cook’s visits.
We are beginning to have a debate about Super without even acknowledging we’re basically talking about making sure non-Maori are well-looked after retirement. When Mana raised this last year, their solution – that the age of Super be lowered for Maori to 60 – did not receive serious consideration. But what is fair here? How do we ensure this “universal” benefit can be accessed equitably?
The Treaty – both the Maori text and the English text – clearly guarantee Maori the same rights and privileges as British subjects. How does that work with our Superannuation scheme? And if it doesn’t work, is redress due to Maori on the grounds that this is pure and simple discrimination, directly traceable to the impacts of colonisation? Is this a Super breach of Te Tiriti?