Ka tautoko mātou i te hunga kaumātua kia takoha tonu ki te poritanga We support seniors to keep contributing to society

This year we made payments totalling nearly $16.6 billion to over 837,000 recipients of New Zealand Superannuation and Veterans’ Pensions.

However, our role in helping older people to maintain their independence and participate in society is wider than merely providing financial support. The Office for Seniors raises awareness of issues affecting older New Zealanders and provides advice to support the Minister for Seniors in her advocacy role for older New Zealanders. In 2020/21 the Office focused on supporting older people through COVID-19, implementing the new strategy for older people, providing digital literacy training for seniors, challenging misconceptions about elder abuse, promoting and enhancing the SuperGold Card, and leading the promotion of age-friendly cities, towns and communities across New Zealand.

Monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on older people

The Office monitored the impacts of COVID-19 on older people, and published quarterly reports . A small suite of indicators focused on material hardship, unemployment rates, Jobseeker Support, loneliness, elder abuse, discrimination, and housing.

The latest report, covering the quarter to March 2021, indicated that most data points captured appeared to be either returning to pre-COVID-19 levels or following trajectories that cannot be distinguished from longer-term pre-pandemic trends. Stakeholders have also reported a return to a degree of pre-pandemic normalcy.

Implementing Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019-2034

During the year work started on the development of the first action plan to implement our national strategy for our ageing population, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019-2034 .

The action plan focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on older people. It presents a range of actions to respond to three priority areas within the wider objectives of the strategy by 2024:

  • employment
  • digital inclusion
  • housing.

Initial actions were developed in 2019, in the lead up to the action plan. Most of these have progressed well, and this has maintained momentum and focus on giving effect to the strategy.

Employment for seniors

The action plan will focus on those who are aged 50 or over, a small but significant number of whom have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Actions will focus on supporting older workers to use their skills and experience and enabling employers to build a resilient, multigenerational workforce.

Digital inclusion

The impacts of digital exclusion were highlighted during the lockdown, with many older people struggling to access essential services and stay connected. The action plan will focus on enabling older people to embrace technology as the world moves increasingly online – and ensuring those not online can still access the services they need day-to-day.

The Digital Literacy Training for Seniors programme was recognised as the best Asia Pacific Smart City project under the Education category of the IDC 2021 Smart City Asia Pacific Awards in May 2021. This award acknowledges the collaborative effort between the Office for Seniors, which is funding the training programme, and its contractors Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa and the 20/20 Trust.

By 30 June 2021 over 1,000 older people had benefited from this initiative.  Self-assessments indicated that basic skills had improved significantly.

We are working to create a page on the Office for Seniors website as a single point of information for digital literacy training providers that use the Essential Digital Skills (EDS) evaluation framework. This will enable:

  • older people to find providers who are partnering with the Office to provide quality EDS digital literacy training programmes
  • providers to collaborate with other training providers
  • potential partnership opportunities, including private funding of providers that can deliver consistent and good quality training outcomes and measures.

The Office is working on signing up training providers and engaging stakeholders who could partner with or fund providers who are using the EDS framework.

Housing for seniors

The rate of homeownership is declining and a small but growing number of older people have difficulty in finding secure, affordable and safe long-term housing. The action plan will focus on housing that meets the specific needs of older people and allows them to age in place.

Challenging misconceptions about elder abuse

The Office launched a new awareness campaign to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June 2021.

The three-week campaign included video, radio, print and online advertising targeting audiences aged 18 to 64. It sought to break down misconceptions about elder abuse and to promote the Elder Abuse Response Service.

The campaign successfully achieved more than a million impressions online, with the videos played in full more than 460,000 times, and radio advertising (in English, te reo Māori, Samoan and Tongan) reaching 56 percent of the target audience.

Calls and contacts for the Elder Abuse Response Service helpline increased more than 120 percent in June.

The Office worked closely with the Joint Venture on Family Violence and Sexual Violence on the inclusion of elder abuse issues in its strategy and work programme. This included organising three stakeholder hui (in Auckland, Rotorua and Christchurch) to contribute to the development of the national strategy.

Promoting Age friendly Aotearoa New Zealand

Since 2015 the Office has been running a small grants programme, Community Connects, to support local councils, NGOs and community groups to develop Age friendly strategies or implement Age friendly projects. In February 2021 the Office reviewed the programme to see whether it was meeting its objectives and to identify ways to improve it. As a result of the review, we have renamed it the Age friendly Fund and we are looking at how to make the Fund more accessible and attractive to kaupapa Māori organisations.

We published an Age friendly business toolkit, framework and self-assessment in partnership with Gore District Council and Partners in Change. The resources can be adapted for use in any community and are freely available on our website .

Enhancing Te Kāri Kōura SuperGold Card programme

By the end of the year there were

  • 5,157 participating businesses and
  • 10,569 business outlets in the programme.

During the year we ran campaigns to highlight the value of the SuperGold Card and to increase the offerings of everyday essentials. The most successful of these was our essential items promotion in April 2021, which resulted in more than 224,000 cardholders viewing the savings available.

We continued to develop functionality for the SuperGold mobile app and website to make it easier for cardholders to find what they are looking for and for new SuperGold partner businesses to sign up online. Throughout the year there were almost 2.2 million visits to the SuperSeniors website, and we signed up 682 new business partners.

The number of SuperGold Cardholders increased during the year by 3.3 percent, from 785,000 to more than 810,000.


  1. This figure does not include Winter Energy Payments and other supplementary assistance.

  2. The reports are available at https://officeforseniors.govt.nz/better-later-life-strategy/better-later-life-strategy-key-indicators/covid-19-indicators

  3. The strategy was launched by Hon Tracey Martin, then Minister for Seniors, in November 2019. Read more at https://officeforseniors.govt.nz/better-later-life-strategy/

  4. The Action Plan was launched in September 2021.

  5. See https://officeforseniors.govt.nz/our-work/age-friendly-communities/