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New Zealanders too relaxed about retirement

Although the ostrich is the bird which is supposed to put its head in the sand, the latest Axa Retirement Scope” survey suggests the Kiwi is emulating that undignified position.

Thursday, February 9th 2006, 9:07AM

by Rob Hosking

New Zealanders are adopting a too relaxed attitude to retirement planning, the annual survey, which compares attitudes and expectations of 12 OECD countries, shows.

Axa New Zealand’s head of marketing, Chris Watney, says the company will be distributing the latest report around financial advisers.

“It can be used as a way of starting those conversations about what people aspire to and how they might get there.”

The survey basically shows New Zealanders are quite happy - only the Americans rank higher in this, and they have pursuit of happiness in their Constitution – and also New Zealanders have an extremely high expectation of what they will do in their retirement.

“We travel more than anyone else in retirement, we have one of the highest number of hobbies.

“But you have to prepare for that.”

And the survey shows New Zealanders are a little more hazy on the means of meeting those aspirations, he says.

As a country, New Zealand is one of the lowest savers of all 12 countries surveyed.

Despite this, New Zealanders are among the most optimistic about retirement income, with just under a quarter of New Zealanders believing they will be at least as well off during retirement.

“Yet only 16% of working Kiwis have any idea what their future retirement income will be,” says Axa New Zealand chief executive Ralph Stewart.

This makes New Zealanders among the least aware in this regard of all those surveyed.

“Part of what this is telling us is that New Zealand has many attributes that retired people can enjoy for free, but this does not account for the confidence of the respondents that their low savings levels will be sufficient to ensure a happy retirement.”

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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