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NZ Super

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Life Insurance

KiwiSaver

General

What is KiwiSaver?

KiwiSaver is a government savings initiative to help you save for your retirement. To encourage you to save the government provides an annual subsidy, known as a government contribution (GC) of up to $521.43 a year. To qualify for the government contribution you must be 18 or older, and under your KiwiSaver retirement age.

If you are an employee, you will also get a contribution from your employer.

In most cases you will not be able to access your KiwiSaver savings (including your own contributions) until your retirement. However, it may be possible to withdraw money if you are buying your first home, or in cases of significant financial hardship, serious illness and permanent emigration. Your funds will be paid to your estate if you die.

All contributions and benefits payable are subject to the KiwiSaver Act 2006.

What if I’m self-employed or not employed?

You can join KiwiSaver if you are self-employed (earn income that is not subject to PAYE) or not employed. You must still be younger than age 65 to join. 

There is no requirement to contribute a percentage of your pay, so the minimum savings level will depend on your KiwiSaver scheme provider. SuperLife has no minimum contribution amount.

This means you can enjoy all the benefits of KiwiSaver except for the employer contributions.  These benefits include the government’s government contribution (government contribution) and the ability to withdraw your savings for the purchase of your first home.

What happens if you become an employee (start earning income that is subject to PAYE)?

If you become an employee, then a different set of rules apply.  The main change is that you may be required to contribute a minimum of 3% of your taxable earnings to KiwiSaver. Your employer will need to pay the same amount on your behalf, if you are aged 18 and over. However if you have been in KiwiSaver for 12 months you can choose not to contribute (called a “savings suspension”). In this case, your employer can also choose not to contribute. You can still choose to save $87 per month to get the government’s maximum tax credit.  

Contributions and savings

What is the minimum contribution level for KiwiSaver?

Employees

If you are an employee you must contribute a minimum of 3% of your before tax pay.  After one year you can stop contributing (i.e. go on a “savings suspension”). You can choose to increase the 3% to 4%, 6%, 8% or 10%, and to reduce it back to 3% whenever you choose.

Employees can also make extra savings direct to their KiwiSaver provider. There are no restrictions on this and it is up to the employee and the provider to decide. SuperLife lets each employee decide what they wish to do and when they wish to do it.

Non-employees (for example, self-employed, children, beneficiaries, stay-at-home spouse)

If you are not an employee, there is no minimum. You can choose not to contribute in the first year. 

If you are 18 or older, saving at least $1,042.86 a year (i.e. $87 a month) until you reach your KiwiSaver retirement age maximises the government contributions.

Government contributions (GC)

What is the government contribution (GC) and how does it work?

At the end of each “KiwiSaver year” (1 July to 30 June) the government will top-up your KiwiSaver account by $1 for every $2 you save, up to the value of $521.43 - provided you are 18 or older, your primary residence is New Zealand and you are not yet eligible for a retirement benefit.

It is up to you whether you put savings into your KiwiSaver account to get your maximum government contribution of $521.43. You can do so by making regular contributions or making a lump sum contribution before 30 June each year.

You can read more about the government contribution on the government’s KiwiSaver website by clicking here.

Where does the government contribution go?

The government contribution is paid into your KiwiSaver account and invested along with your other savings.

Do I get the government contribution in my first year in KiwiSaver?

Yes. In the first year, the maximum government contribution is proportionate. The calculation is based on the period from when you joined to the first 30 June (which is the end of the “KiwiSaver year”). You must be 18 or older to receive the government contribution.

Do I get the government contribution in the year I turn 18?

Yes. In the year you turn 18, you will get your first government contribution. The calculation is based on the period from your 18th birthday to 30 June (which is the end of the “KiwiSaver year”).  Each year after that, it will be the $521 maximum if you save $1,043 until your last year.

How can I make sure I receive the government contribution?
  • If you are an employee, check your payslip to see how much you are saving from your pay. If it is less than $20 a week (or $87 a month) you will not get the maximum, but you will still get a government contribution based on the amount you are saving. You can also save extra directly to SuperLife while you are saving from your pay.
  • If you are not an employee (for example, self-employed), you can decide how much to save and save directly to SuperLife. You get the maximum government contribution if you save $20 a week or $87 a month or $1,043 a year. You can also set up a direct debit or make a lump sum payment to save.

Accessing KiwiSaver funds

What happens to my contributions when I reach my KiwiSaver retirement age?

When you reach your KiwiSaver retirement age:

  • You don’t have to contribute to KiwiSaver, but you can if you want to.
  • The compulsory employer contributions stop. However, some employers may choose to continue and you will need to find out if your employer will, and if yes, what the rules are.
  • Your contributions continue unchanged until you change them. If you are employed, you will have to tell your employer if you want to stop contributing to KiwiSaver. Otherwise, they have to keep making deductions from your pay.
  • If you are currently saving by direct debit to SuperLife, this will continue until you tell us to stop.

It’s important to be aware that the government contribution does not apply after your KiwiSaver retirement age. However, you are eligible for a proportion of the government contribution for the period from 1 July to when you reach your KiwiSaver retirement age. SuperLife will tell you what that entitlement is and how much you need to save to get your maximum final government contribution. These contributions need to be made before your KiwiSaver retirement age.

KiwiSaver for children under age 18

Do the government contributions also apply to children?

No. government contributions are “free money” from the government. However, they do not apply to children until they turn 18.

For those 18 or older, the government pays a government contribution to their KiwiSaver account each year. The tax credit is $1 for each $2 of savings made that year, to a maximum government contribution of $521.43 a year.

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