Married the wrong woman

Jack and his wife were double losers until the Spousal Provision policy ended on 9 November 2020. Having lived and worked in New Zealand all his life was not good enough for Jack to get NZ Super.

Feeling like a loser in macho land

By Jack B.

It already starts here, by putting a fake first name at the place of the author's name. I am writing about what is tormenting me, and I do not want to give my real name.

When I think about retirement I feel like a loser, a non-achiever, a non-provider, a nothing, somehow ashamed although it is not my fault that we will have to live on my wife's overseas pension at old age.

I am a New Zealander married to a lovely woman from Europe. I love her and she loves me. But she is the wrong woman regarding our retirement because she was a professional with a good salary in her home country and is entitled to an overseas pension higher than two NZ Supers. This means that neither she nor I will get NZ Super, thanks to the New Zealand government's policy of Direct Deduction and Spousal Provision.

I do not understand why I am suddenly part of an economic unit only because my wife has an overseas pension. Would I be married to a New Zealander without an overseas pension I would be an individual and entitled to full NZ Superannuation. Why am I punished for marrying an immigrant - and she for marrying me?

We fell in love in our late thirties, so my wife had worked in her home country for nearly 20 years. She had to pay huge money into the state's pension fund, and she investigated if she would get her full overseas pension if she moved to New Zealand.

They said yes, and when checking the Double Taxation Agreement between the countries we saw that her pension could not be taxed in New Zealand. So everything seemed fine, and we thought we would have a nice life in retirement with her overseas pension and my NZ Super. We did not even think that she would be entitled to a full NZ Super after ten years of residence. But we thought even less of the possibility that the Government would steal all her money.

Living and staying here is the way into poverty

I could have moved to her country and would have paid into that state's pension fund by the compulsory deductions from my wages. This way I would have accumulated a nice pension entitlement. She would have continued working there and would have doubled the amount of her overseas pension by her contributions. We would have had a lot of money in retirement without making any additional savings. By not working any less in New Zealand and living here we will be impoverished. This is no encouraging prospect.

All this puts a lot of stress on our life already now. We thought we would be able to afford a bit more and enjoy life after having paid off our mortgage. Now we have to save and save and save, so we can afford a bit more than just staying at home, pay the rates, groceries, as well as the cost of running the car, insurance, heating, and all these basics. Already now we have only one car in order to save money.

We think twice about buying shoes, clothes, computer stuff. I have never had an an extravagant lifestyle. But already now, before retirement, we have to lead the life of poor pensioners because the New Zealand government will steal more than NZ$ 2,000 every month when we retire.

Why on earth does my wife who has not cost this country more than several hundreds of dollars for subsidised prescription medicines have to pay the superannuation of a New Zealander? Even criminals who have never paid a cent of taxes get NZ Super, and I have worked here for 45 years and do not get a cent.

More and more Kiwis are affected by this legalised theft

I am sure the original intention of the Government was to only rob immigrants of their overseas pensions. But more and more Kiwis are affected by this legalised theft, and more and more will be affected. If they live and work overseas I can only recommend them to stay there. The more they work, the higher the pensions they get. And mate, if you have an overseas partner with overseas pension, stay there, or you lose everything both of you have ever worked for!

I have not told my colleagues what retirement will do to me. In this macho country where males are still males and most behave accordingly, I will be regarded as a loser who is not able to provide for his family. I feel so horrible that I did not know about this shameful Section 70 and the Spousal Provision and that I asked my wife if she wanted to live with me in this beautiful country. I feel responsible for causing our future poverty.

I have no words to explain to her how cynical New Zealand politicians are and that their only aim is to rip off immigrants, tourists and even their own people while everybody out in the world thinks what bunch of friendly people New Zealanders are. I do not only feel like a loser. I am a loser, courtesy of the New Zealand government.

(Written in 2011. The Spousal Provision ended on 9 November 2020.)

(Last update: Nov. 2021)

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