Members of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre have given the following presentations at domestic and international conferences and forums.

2021 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006


Pressure Points in our Policies: Facing up to the Ageing Population

Matthew Bell, Treasury Analyst, focussed on New Zealand Superannuation and its rise relative to GDP, and the NZ Super Fund’s role in helping those future costs. He shared some insights on the impact of ageing on Treasury’s long-term fiscal projections in his presentation. 

Professor Ngaire Kerse, Joyce Cook Chair in Ageing Well, discussed the present and likely future of healthcare and support for our ethnically diverse ageing populations, and the problems of provision of care across vastly different environments in her presentation below.

Jane Wrightson, Retirement Commissioner, shared Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission’s ideas for improving the general population’s financial preparation for ageing well in her presentation.

Associate Professor Susan St. John, RPRC Director, considered possible responses to fiscal pressures, and ways of making Kiwisaver, housing, and long-term care policies more equitable in her presentation.

View the photos from this event.

Read the post event write-up below.


(Continuing) Gender penalty in retirement

On 21 August 2019, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her disappointment that there is still an almost 10% gender pay gap in New Zealand. Women are over-represented among those on the minimum wage, but boosting that has not made the hoped-for difference. The gender pay gap is damaging on a daily basis, and it compounds the costs of taking time out of the workforce for unpaid care-giving to children and/or ageing parents. It is one of many causes of smaller retirement savings for women than for men.


Global Trends in Pension Reforms - Issues for New Zealand
David Harris, director of TOR Financial Consulting Ltd, and Research Associate of the RPRC, presented a seminar on 5 April at the University of Auckland. David has vast experience in pensions policy around the world and a deep knowledge of global trends and worldwide developments in pensions policy. He discussed the key international issues, with the implications for New Zealand and asked: “How do we start the needed debate about the future of age pensions in New Zealand?”


Role and Challenges of Intergenerationality in Enhancing the Health of Ageing Populations
Thanks to FRDF and WUN funding, this research on intergenerational equity was presented  at the APACH conference in Korea by Professor Eliza Wong, Chinese University of Hong Kong. University of Auckland contributors are M Claire Dale, Kathryn Peri, Gary Cheung and Roy Lay-yee.

Some equity issues in health and care policy and provision
Dr M Claire Dale presents Some equity issues in health and care policy and provision at the 25th Annual Colloquium of Superannuation Researchers, 6 – 7 July 2017, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Forum: Retirement Policy in an Age of Uncertainty

Ireland, England, the US and Australia, like New Zealand, have rapidly and permanently ageing populations. The difference is: those countries are in the midst of far-reaching retirement policy reform while New Zealand continues to refuse to confront the issues. View presentations from the forum on 20 April 2017 below:

Retirement Policy in an Age of Uncertainty - Welcome
20 April 2017, Susan St John. (670.5 kB, PDF)
Australian retirement income system: Change, key developments, issues and challenges
20 April 2017, The Honourable Nick Sherry. (585.4 kB, PDF)
The process of decision-making for pensions policy in New Zealand
20 April 2017, Michael Littlewood. (267.2 kB, PDF)
Ageing populations: health, care, support and housing
20 April 2017, Dr M Claire Dale. (649.9 kB, PDF)
Some conundrums
20 April 2017, Susan St John. (724.7 kB, PDF)

Retirement incomes: what should we be talking about?
Past co-director of the RPRC Michael Littlewood presents ‘Littlewood’s Lessons’ to the Remuera meeting of the University of the Third Age.

Retirement incomes: what should we be talking about?
10 April 2017, Michael Littlewood. (464.7 kB, PDF)

Nga Tangata Microfinance
Dr M Claire Dale presents on how microfinance loans are needed in New Zealand to break the high-interest lending cycle that is one cause of poverty, and one of the most enduring poverty traps.

Nga Tangata Microfinance
15 March 2017, Dr M Claire Dale. (742.5 kB, PDF)


Public policy implications of changing longevity
21 October 2016. Professor Pierre Pestieau from the University of Liege discusses how demographic evolution is accompanied by some convergence across countries, whereas substantial longevity inequalities persist within nations. Learn more about Pierre and the RPRC October speaker event here. (794.3 kB, PDF)

View presentations from the forum on 15 July 2016 below.

Introduction to the problem that has no name
15 July 2016. Dr M Claire Dale, Research Fellow with the Retirement Policy and Research Centre, sets the scene for the discussion of gender inequality and introduces the speakers. (819.7 kB, PDF)
Gender inequality in New Zealand
15 July 2016. Associate Professor Jennifer Curtin, Politics and International Relations. This presentation reviews the position of women in New Zealand today and the persistent gender gaps that have an impact, either directly or indirectly, on women’s well-being in retirement. (1.2 MB, PDF)
Gender differences in Investment Funds and Insurance
15 July 2016. Laura Abba, Head of Strategy & Customer Experience, ANZ. Women represent over 40% of the world’s labour force but only control a quarter of the world’s wealth. Women tend to undervalue their contributions to the economy and to society. (1.3 MB, PDF)
UK and Australia experience
15 July 2016. Dr M.Claire Dale’s presentation surveys the persistent gender inequality in Australia and the United Kingdom, and the impact this has on their retirement prospects. Older women are the fastest growing group in the poverty statistics. (916.6 kB, PDF)
What women are asking
15 July 2016. Sharon Giblett, Authorised Financial Adviser, Financial Planner, Director, summarised the barriers to women preparing for retirement, including: Having the confidence to get started; Having sufficient disposable income to save; and Concern about making the ‘right’ choices. (2.4 MB, PDF)
Implications of discriminatory policies for women
15 July 2016. Susan St John is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Economics Department, and Director of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre. Her presentation focussed on the ‘within gender gap’ in New Zealand, particularly praising the ‘great equaliser’: New Zealand Superannuation. (1.9 MB, PDF)


NZ Dementia Summit

The economics of caring
6 November 2015. Dr M Claire Dale presents a survey of recent changes in the care industry, with a particular focus on dementia and aged care, and the ageing workforce. (413.4 kB, PDF)
Economics of Caring: new thinking required
6 November 2015, Susan St John. More resources are needed to meet BOTH the needs of the young and the care needs of the ageing population. Fortunately technology makes the shift of excess labour into care feasible. Do we have the will to make this happen? (874.1 kB, PDF)

The unique New Zealand system for retirement income: Too simple or simply genius?
Spotlight on Retirement Incomes Policy. Lunchtime seminar presented by the Australian Social Policy Association (ASPA) and the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) Melbourne. Susan St John  


Decumulating retirement savings: making the options work
21 November 2014. Local and international academics and industry experts debate a topic that will be of increasing interest to policymakers, financial service providers and consumers as increasing numbers of New Zealanders move into retirement.

Healthcare: How do we pay for it going forward? Wellness and healthcare for all New Zealanders 
22 July 2014. The Ballot Box Panel Series, University of Auckland. The 6.8% of GDP spent on Health in 2010 is expected to increase to 9.9% by 2050. In 2012, 33% of the health budget went to those aged 65+ although they comprised only 13.9% of the population. Decisions must be made. Susan St John.

Silver Tsunami or Golden Harvest? Policies for an Ageing Population
Dr M.Claire Dale calculates current costs of the ageing population and projects the future impact on state expenditure. She considers policy options that could retain an appropriate level of assistance for the aged, while reducing the cost burden on the younger population.  

Retirement Incomes Policy: the future is now
17 April 2014. International and national retirement industry experts, academics and practitioners analyse recent retirement income policy recommendations proposed by stakeholders and interest groups. A forum hosted by the RPRC and the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Incomes (CFLRI).



Forum: Does the UK’s reform of pensions have lessons for New Zealand?
23 September 2013. The UK’s pension system is described as the most complex in the world, and New Zealand’s is described as the simplest. After fifteen years of intense retirement income policy debate, consultation and legislation, the UK's pension system will become surprisingly like New Zealand's with a single tier of public pension and auto-enrolment into private pensions. An RPRC Forum.

Forum: Overseas pensions: Justice delayed?
6 June 2013. The Forum brought together academics, Ministry of Social Development (MSD) officials, politicians and affected pensioners, to debate the way forward.



Symposium: Spending the savings: Decumulation and middle-income retirement
30 November 2012. This symposium brought together academics and practitioners from the retirement industry to identify problems and solutions to decumulation of assets in retirement.

SAYGO versus PAYGO: Does it matter?
26 June 2012. The amount spent on New Zealand Superannuation is forecast to double in the next forty years as a proportion of GDP. Some say the government should be emulating private behaviour by setting aside more financial assets in the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, while others believe that the contributions to KiwiSaver should be increased to save the day.

A shift to more "Save As You Go" (SAYGO) is advocated by Dr Andrew Coleman, Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. The benefits of "Pay As You Go" (PAYGO), and some of the possible pitfalls of expecting pre funding or increased private saving for retirement to solve the burden on future generations are discussed by Associate Professor Susan St John, and Michael Littlewood, co-directors of the RPRC.

Copies of the presentations by Dr Andrew Coleman, Associate Professor Susan St John and Michael Littlewood are available by following the above hyperlink.

Accounting for the government: Is GAAP a step forward or a step back?
6 March 2012. ANewberry asks: Is the generally accepted accounting standards (GAAP) approach appropriate for a government’s financial reports given its wide involvement in social insurance? What about public-private partnerships? Has line by line accounting improved the New Zealand accounts? Has it improved transparency, or has it created a façade of transparency that does not tell us what we need to know?

View Financial reports of the Government of New Zealand: Summarised balance sheets adjusted to show full derivatives exposures

Putting a human face on the financial services industry: What happens when it all goes wrong?                                       9 February 2012. The collapse of several financial products and service providers has resulted in many thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand losing their life savings, house ownership, and any semblance of financial security. In some cases these losses have resulted from inappropriate financial advice being given. Aaron Bruhn, Australian National University.



Universal pensions: The case for New Zealand
27 November 2011. Michael Littlewood gave a presentation to a conference run by the Alliance for Universal Pensions (Hong Kong). The presentation looked at the New Zealand experience with New Zealand Superannuation. Michael also took part in a question & answer session at the Legislative Council the following day.

ACC Forum: The future of ACC
26 August 2011. Is New Zealand in danger of losing both what is best about the ACC scheme, and our place as a world leader in accident compensation? What can be done?

Preparing for the health and long-term care costs of an ageing population in New Zealand
14-15 July 2011. Presentation by Susan St John and Claire Dale at the 19th Annual Colloquium of Superannuation Researchers Centre for Pensions and Superannuation at UNSW: Financing the retirement needs of an ageing population.

Reflecting on the May budgets, the recession, and labour markets in New Zealand and Australia
27 May 2011. The financial crisis has pushed all government budgets further into deficit. More recently, governments in New Zealand and Australia have faced new fiscal challenges arising out of natural disasters. The result is weakening budget positions.



Welfare reform: Alternative views on the options
26 November 2010. Presentation by Susan St John to Institute of Policy Studies, University of Victoria Wellington.

Forum: Family policy, care of children and social inclusion
25 October 2010. Presentation to Brotherhood of St Laurence Melbourne: The New Zealand experience by Susan St John.

What is it with compulsory saving?
20 September 2010. Michael Littlewood gave a presentation to the Law and Economics Association (LEANZ) in Wellington.

Welfare forum: Rethinking welfare for the 21st century
10 September 2010. The Government appointed a Welfare Working Group in April 2010 to conduct a wide-ranging and fundamental review of New Zealand's welfare system, and make practical recommendations to improve the economic and social outcomes for beneficiaries and New Zealand as a whole. The aim of this Welfare Forum is to move beyond the narrow terms of reference of the Welfare Working Group, and make recommendations that recognise the current economic climate, and foreground the needs of children. 

Why not just fix child poverty?
30 August 2010. At the Fabian society meeting Susan St John and Sue Bradford examined poverty and welfare in New Zealand. Susan St John challenged simplistic thinking on the left concerning their "lazy" endorsement of universal child benefits as the answer and raised issues for the left around their condoning of the complex and discriminatory Working for families tax credits.

New Zealand superannuation and overseas pensions forum series: Issues and principles for reform
25 August 2010, Wellington. Abatement of overseas, state-administered, contributory pensions has caused distress for many New Zealand immigrants as evidenced by complaints to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), the Courts, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), the Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC), the media, and the embassies of the origin countries for the pensions.

14-15 July Kuala Lumpur – Employees' Provident Fund conference
The RPRC's Michael Littlewood gave two presentations at a conference in Kuala Lumpur organised by the Malaysian Employees' Provident Fund (the local compulsory retirement savings scheme).

  1. Pre-funding New Zealand superannuation
    This first presentation, Best practice in smoothing the tax burden: The New Zealand experience, explained how New Zealand approached the partial pre-funding of state pension entitlements through the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF). It summarised the findings of an article published in the New Zealand Economic Papers*, suggesting that the NZSF had cost New Zealand's taxpayers about $2.6 billion in the nearly six years to 30 June 2009. Michael suggested that the NZSF gave Malaysia an example that it should not follow.

*Pre-funding a government's future financial obligations – the New Zealand Superannuation case study. New Zealand Economic Papers, Volume 44, Issue 1, 2010. (Taylor & Francis online).

View the New Zealand Economics Papers article

  1. New Zealand's national financial literacy strategy
    The second paper, National strategy for financial literacy and retirement savings, looked at New Zealand's national financial literacy strategy. New Zealand is one of the few countries to have carried out a survey on financial literacy standards. The first of these surveys took place in 2006 and a follow-up was run in 2009. Michael suggested that Malaysia could emulate New Zealand's work in this area if it wanted a better understanding of the success (or otherwise) of the compulsory Employees' Provident Fund.

New Zealand superannuation and overseas pensions forum series: Options for reform
24 February 2010, Auckland. Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Commissioner, the Human Rights Commission, opened the Forum and launched RPRC’s Working Papers: 2009-1 Literature Review; and 2009-2 New Zealand Superannuation and Overseas Pensions: Issues and Principles for Reform. Her opening address included an urge to action for change to the inequitable current pension policy.

Unemployment insurance seminar: Beware the “insurance” model for unemployment benefits - Cautionary evidence from the Canadian experience
24 June 2010. Dr Jim Stanford (Canadian Auto Workers Union, Toronto, Canada) reviewed the recent experience of Canada's Employment Insurance programme, and considered the advantages and weaknesses of its conception as an "insurance" scheme. This experience is relevant in light of proposals to restructure New Zealand's unemployment benefit system.



ACC forum: ACC debate - How do we pay for the ACC?
15 December 2009. In the late 1990s, it was decided that ACC should become fully pre-funded. The ACC Forum focussed primarily on the merits of alternative methods of funding ACC to ensure the survival of this unique social insurance scheme.

Super futures?
5 September 2009. Susan St John. The AGM Government Superannuitants Association (GSA). GSA Newsletter No. 80.

Social insurance and the ACC Summit
29–30 June 2009. At the Summit: Reviewing New Zealand's Accident Compensation System, in Wellington, 29–30 June 2009, presenters from America, Australia and New Zealand compared the different countries' public and private insurance compensation systems. The summit was particularly relevant to the work of the RPRC because of the current challenges around pre-funding the ACC. This issue has been made more controversial as the National-led government chose to suspend payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund in 2009 until further notice.

The two RPRC presentations examined the case for relaxing the requirement of full funding of ACC, arguing that is not required in social insurance schemes. While PAYG may in principle suffice, the historical context suggests a multi-party compromise is also necessary. Michael Littlewood assessed the technical case for fully funding ACC while Susan St John outlined the history of pre-funding and the lessons of that history for current policy.

Social statistics data workshop
10 June 2009. This was a unique opportunity for staff and postgraduate students to interact with Statistics New Zealand and to get hands-on assistance and provide feedback on the use of statistics data sets in a way that is usually only possible in Wellington.

RPRC tax symposium: Tax, saving, welfare and retirement
16 July 2009. The symposium examined specific issues relating to the welfare/tax interface, saving and retirement, and whether New Zealand might re-establish a more neutral and simpler regime based on the accepted principles of the previous decade.



A welfare state fit for the 21st century
11 November 2008. The 2008 Lincoln Efford Memorial Lecture, WEA, Christchurch by Susan St John.

KiwiSaver and the ageing of the population: What are the next steps?
27 August 2008. ASFONZ 2008 Annual Conference; Sustainable Workplace Saving, Sky City, Auckland by Susan St John.

Symposium: Retirement income policies in New Zealand - looking back and looking forward
16 April 2008. 123 delegates and 20 speakers, including many prominent players from the last 30 years, talked about what has happened and what might matter for the future.

To support the work of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre and the April 2008 Symposium, The University of Auckland Library is pleased to make available online copies of the following publications:

  1. Government Economic Statement
    New Zealand. Government economic statement, 17 December 1987. Wellington, N.Z. : Government Printer [1987]
  2. Consultative Document on Superannuation and Life Insurance: Volume 1
    Consultative Document on Superannuation and Life Insurance, Volume 1. Wellington, N.Z. : Government Printer [1988]
  3. Tax Treatment of Superannuation: Report of the Consultative Committee
    New Zealand. Consultative Committee on Superannuation, Life Insurance and Related Areas. Tax treatment of superannuation: report of the Consultative Committee. [Wellington, N.Z.] : Treasury, [1988].


How much ageing can we afford?
11 November 2007. Keynote address to the New Zealand Association of Gerontology Conference Te Ropu Matauranga Kaumatuatanga o Aotearoa, Hamilton by Susan St John.

KiwiSaver may be good for individuals but is it good for society?
15 August 2007. Chancellor's lecture series Massey University by Susan St John.

Retirement saving issues in New Zealand: What has happened to evidence-based policy making?
28 June 2007. Presentation by Michael Littlewood at Auckland LEANZ seminar.

The dishevelling of the level playing field: Tax neutrality and saving in New Zealand
9 May 2007. Presentation at the Economics Department Waikato University by Susan St John and Michael Littlewood.

Where to for Welfare?
21 March 2007. Symposium held by the Public Policy Group to discuss recent and proposed welfare reform.



Susan St John commentary on: The life-cycle model savings and growth
14 November 2006. Presentation by Andrew Coleman, Reserve Bank of New Zealand Workshop on Housing, savings and the household balance sheet, Reserve Bank, Wellington.

The non-financial assets of New Zealand households
9 November 2006. Presentation to the Australasian Investment Fiduciary Conference, Rotorua, New Zealand by Michael Littlewood.