1. Consumers
  2. KiwiSaver and superannuation
  3. About KiwiSaver

About KiwiSaver

KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings scheme set up by the government to encourage New Zealanders to prepare for retirement. It may be your first investment and is likely to represent a large part of your retirement savings. Once you’ve joined, your money will be locked in until you qualify for NZ Super (currently 65), with a few exceptions.

We monitor KiwiSaver and other superannuation providers closely to make sure they meet the required standards and act with your best interests in mind. All KiwiSaver schemes must be registered. See the IRD’s list of KiwiSaver scheme providers for details.

How KiwiSaver works

If you’re employed, you can contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your salary before tax to a KiwiSaver scheme. You can also make lump sum payments or set up additional direct payments. Your employer must also contribute at least 3%.

If you’re self-employed, you decide how much you want to contribute and make payments directly to your chosen KiwiSaver scheme provider.

If you contribute to KiwiSaver and you’re aged 18 or over, the government also helps you save by giving you an extra 50 cents for every dollar you put in, up to a maximum payment of $521.43 (as at 2016). To get the full government payment, which is called a member tax credit, you have to contribute at least $1,042.86 a year.

You decide which KiwiSaver scheme provider your contributions will go to. Each provider offers a range of funds you can invest in. These typically range from ‘conservative’ (low risk, low return) to ‘growth’ or ‘aggressive’ (higher risk, higher return).

Use the Sorted KiwiSaver fund finder tool to help you decide which type of fund is best for you.

If you don't choose a scheme for yourself, and your employer doesn't have a chosen scheme, Inland Revenue will allocate you to one of the nine government-appointed default providers.

If you are allocated to a default provider's KiwiSaver scheme your contributions will be invested in the scheme's default conservative investment fund option.

If you remain in a default conservative fund, your retirement savings may end up being smaller than if you’d chosen a fund based on your personal needs.

Use the Sorted KiwiSaver fund finder tool to help you decide which type of fund is best for you.

Joining KiwiSaver

Most New Zealanders under the age of 65 can join KiwiSaver. You must be:

  • a New Zealand citizen or be entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely
  • living or normally living in New Zealand

There are three ways to join:

  • automatic enrolment when you start  a new job
  • opting in through your employer’s KiwiSaver scheme
  • opting in through a KiwiSaver scheme provider

You can choose which scheme to join, even if you’ve already been allocated to an employer-chosen scheme or a default scheme.

When you join KiwiSaver, you’ll receive a copy of the scheme’s product disclosure statement (PDS). It’s important you read this as it describes how the scheme works and gives you an understanding of the risks and return, and any fees and charges.  

Changing your KiwiSaver scheme

You can change your KiwiSaver scheme provider whenever you like, but you can only have one KiwiSaver account at a time.

Sorted’s KiwiSaver fund finder tool has some great information on things to consider before transferring to another provider.

Transferring other NZ super into KiwiSaver

You may be able to transfer money you have saved in a private or workplace superannuation scheme into KiwiSaver. This will depend on the scheme’s rules (as outlined in the trust deed). Contact your superannuation scheme and KiwiSaver scheme provider to find out more.  

Where to learn more about KiwiSaver

The government’s KiwiSaver website has lots of information about KiwiSaver.

Sorted has tools to help you choose a scheme provider and calculate your KiwiSaver retirement savings.

A financial adviser can give you advice about what scheme and funds may be best for you.

Be wary of the KiwiSaver schemes being sold as part of a bundle of other services, or with a special offer attached. Although this is not illegal, it might not be in your best interests.

If you've felt pressured to sign up for KiwiSaver, please let us know.