Minister for Seniors announces development of new strategy for an ageing population

Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin has announced that the Government will develop a strategy to shape the policies needed to help older New Zealanders live well.

“Like the rest of the developed world, New Zealand has an ageing population,” says Minister Martin.

“That’s great news in that more of us are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. But it also means there are some things we have to consider as a country.”

Currently there are around 725,000 people aged over 65. By 2036 there will be more than 1.2 million people 65 or older. Combined with the low birth rate, this means seniors will make up almost a quarter of the total population.

“We need a strategy to ensure that we are in a good position to deal with these demographic shifts and the wider changes that are happening in society, and that are going to happen.

Along with having a positive environment for the individual people represented in these figures, our ageing population has implications for our economy, for employment and housing, health and aged care, and social services.

The Minister said there would be public consultation before the strategy was developed to ask New Zealanders what they want from it. This will run from June until late August and include workshops throughout the country.

“This is about finding out how people want to live as they get older, as well as how they are living now,” Mrs Martin says. “And for this to work properly, we really need to engage with the people who aren’t seniors yet, but who are going to be in the next 10 or 15 years.”

In 2001, when the last Positive Ageing Strategy was created, there were nearly 50,000 people aged 85+. Today there are more than 85,000 people who are 85 or older – 15% of the senior population.That number is predicted to rise to 22% in 2036 and 27% in 2061.The senior population is also increasingly diverse. By 2036 the number of Māori aged 65+ will almost triple from 2013 figures (to 105,000) the senior Pacific population will also triple (to 45,000), and there will be five times as many Asian New Zealanders aged 65+ (164,000).Seniors currently make up around 6.2% of the workforce. By 2033 the number of seniors at work will nearly double and they will make up 10.6% of the workforce.It is estimated that by 2061 seniors will contribute $31 billion to the economy through paid and unpaid work, up from $6.5 billion today.