Returning Kiwi

New Zealand does not take into account how the monies are funded, and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) does not seem to be aware of the the extent of the abuse: Rosanna Leman is not happy with either party of the reciprocal Social Security Agreement.

I have grown to dislike my country of birth

By Rosanna R Leman

I returned to New Zealand in 1999 after 33 years in Canada, fully expecting that my self- and employer-contributed Canada Pension Plan (CPP) was safe for me to access once I retired. I did not expect to get the tax-funded government pension Old Age Security (OAS) and NZ Super from both countries as I knew that the two countries had a reciprocal agreement. What I didn't know was how useless this agreement is and that I would lose my CPP.

However I now realise that New Zealand does not take into account how the monies are funded and arbitrarily deducts and pays me the difference. Canada Pension Plan also doesn’t seem to be aware of the extent of the abuse.

What right does New Zealand have to my private assets?

I know that my CPP is treated as a private asset in Canada as you can pass it to your spouse in a divorce settlement. My question remains: how can New Zealand treat it differently? If it wasn't a private asset then you couldn't give the future benefits of it to anyone, as no government funds divorce.

These are my funds, bottom line. So how come that I have to give away my work-related entitlements, which I consider part of my savings or earnings, when others in New Zealand are treated differently? Those who never went anywhere or never worked, or those who do work and still get to keep their KiwiSaver? And what right does New Zealand have to an employer's contributions from another country? This stinks.

Everything is set up to make us want to give up

I have been talking to different departments in Ottawa. They were shocked and suggested we write letters to the Ministry of Human Resources in Ottawa. Besides not having the time or energy to fight with the New Zealand government, you start to wonder whether you have the stamina to get bogged down by even more fighting for your rights. And you can't help but feel that it has been a useless, frustrating experience: from trying to get ministers to listen to what we are saying to even a flat refusal to revisit the inequitable NZ Super. Everything was set up to treat as a pain and to encourage us to give up.

I find this a basic abuse of my human rights. This is especially the case as it means that I and others like me have funded their own pensions which are now confiscated and substituted, and yet others who have never contributed to any pension, be it by taxes or other means of contribution, get it all.

The Government clearly wants to do nothing to change the situation

Despite numerous letters to Minister John Carter, who is almost rude in his correspondence with me and other friends of mine who are also trying to get this issue changed, the Government wants to do nothing and has refused to let this go any further than our letters.

This has affected me deeply. I do not believe that we are all in the same boat and those of us who have worked and paid for our future should not be robbed of our assets. In fact, New Zealand law does not allow the Government to take your private assets. But the Ministry of Social Development does it anyway.

A prime example of robbing Peter to pay Paul

It is infuriating, frustrating and is the cause of abject misery. At a time of life when one needs to be secure and has worked a lifetime to prepare for retirement, the rug is pulled from under your feet by a government that is Peter Pan in its approach and doesn't care who of its citizens they rob in order to fund its social policies.

The irony is that if I went back to Canada to live out my retirement I could access my NZ Super plus my CPP and OAS. So it seems I would be better off going back.

New Zealand treats me worse than Canada would treat me

It isn't a choice I want to make, however. I am a New Zealander and think that New Zealand should not treat me worse than Canada would treat me.

All I can say is how I feel about it and it is this: the New Zealand government is a stinker and abusive to the very people who contribute the most. And no matter who is in power, no-one wants to address this. I have grown to intensely dislike my country of birth where the Peter Pan mentality reigns supreme.

Let this be a warning to all returning citizens: don't come back if you want to be comfortable in your old age by bringing your overseas pensions with you.

(Last update: 18.11.2021)

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