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KiwiSaver is an easy and affordable way to save for your retirement. Find out how it works and why you should seriously consider joining.

What is KiwiSaver?

KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings scheme set up by the government to encourage New Zealanders to save for their retirement.

If you're employed, you can choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your gross (before-tax) wage or salary to your KiwiSaver account. Your employer has to contribute as well – at least 3% of your gross salary.

Who can join KiwiSaver

To be able to join KiwiSaver you don't have to be employed, but you do have to be:

  • A New Zealand citizen, or entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely.
  • Living or normally living in New Zealand.
  • Under the age of eligibility for NZ Super (which is currently 65 years).

Find out more about who can and can’t join on the Inland Revenue KiwiSaver website.

How to join KiwiSaver

There are three ways to join KiwiSaver:

  • Automatic enrolment when you start a new job
  • Opting in though your employer
  • Opting in through a KiwiSaver provider

If you’re self-employed or not employed, you can join by contacting a KiwiSaver provider and arranging a regular contribution amount. For a list of KiwiSaver providers, see the IRD website.

Find out more about how to join KiwiSaver on the Inland Revenue KiwiSaver website.

Benefits of KiwiSaver

You should seriously consider joining KiwiSaver because of the benefits it offers. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • If you’re employed, your employer has to contribute at least 3% of your gross wage or salary into your KiwiSaver account. That’s on top of your own contributions.
  • Your KiwiSaver contributions come out of your pay before you see it. This makes saving easy.
  • The government pays into your KiwiSaver account as well – an annual ‘member tax credit’ (if you are a contributing member aged 18 or over) of up to $521.
  • As well as saving for retirement, KiwiSaver can also help you save for your first home through a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant and home purchase withdrawal.
  • If you change jobs or leave the workforce your KiwiSaver account moves with you.

How KiwiSaver works

Tip: You don’t have to join KiwiSaver.  But if you’re 18 or over and start a new job you’ll be automatically enrolled in KiwiSaver (with some exceptions).

  • If you are automatically enrolled you can ‘opt out’ (leave KiwiSaver) if you wish, but only between 2 and 8 weeks of starting your job. Once you join you have to contribute for at least 12 months.
  • You can choose to ‘opt in’ (join KiwiSaver) at any time – either through your employer or through a KiwiSaver provider.
  • If you're an employee, you can choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your gross (before-tax) wage or salary to your KiwiSaver account. 
  • After 12 months in KiwiSaver you can take a break from saving (called a ‘contributions holiday’) or carry on.

Once you've joined, you can make voluntary contributions (lump sum payments) at any time, either directly to your KiwiSaver provider or though Inland Revenue. Find out more about managing your KiwiSaver account after you have joined.

Choosing a KiwiSaver fund

You can choose the KiwiSaver scheme your savings are invested with or let your employer or the government choose one for you.  KiwiSaver schemes are run by ‘providers’ like banks and investment companies. 

Most KiwiSaver schemes have several different investment funds where you can put your money. Each fund has a different mix of things it invests in – such as bank deposits, bonds, shares and property. KiwiSaver schemes and their investment funds are not guaranteed by the government.

Find out more about KiwiSaver schemes and funds

Your KiwiSaver scheme should match your investor type to get the results you want. Use our KiwiSaver fund finder to pick a fund that matches your investor type and has the fees you're prepared to pay.

Saving for retirement

If you’re using KiwiSaver to save for your retirement, you can’t touch your money until the age you get New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) which is currently 65. If you’re between 60 and 64 years old when you join, you can’t touch your money for 5 years.

Saving for your first home

When you buy your first home you may be able to make a one-off withdrawal of some of your KiwiSaver savings. You will need to have been a contributing KiwiSaver member for at least three years to make a home purchase withdrawal. You also may even qualify if you have owned property previously.

In addition to a KiwiSaver savings withdrawal, you may also qualify for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant. If you’re eligible, the government may also give you up to $5,000 towards buying an older, existing home, or up to $10,000 towards buying a new home or land to build a new home on.

Visit the Housing New Zealand website for more information.

Where to go for help