How does KiwiSaver work?

KiwiSaver helps Kiwis grow their savings for the future. Find out how KiwiSaver works, including the four simple steps to getting started; how to receive all the contributions you’re entitled to; who can join; and how – and when – you can get your money out. 

The basics

KiwiSaver is a long-term savings plan that helps you save money for a more secure retirement. Your savings could be topped up with contributions from the government and your employer. If you’re saving for your first home, KiwiSaver can help you achieve that goal too. 

Six things you need to know

1. If you’re employed, you can choose to contribute either 3%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10% of your before-tax salary or wages.  (If you don’t choose an amount, the minimum contribution rate of 3% will apply.)

2. If you're eligible, your employer also contributes to your KiwiSaver. This is equal to 3% of your pay before tax.

3. If you're eligible and contribute at least $1,042.86 a year, the government will make an annual contribution of $521.43. (These contributions are known as Government contributions)

4. You become eligible to withdraw your savings* when you qualify for New Zealand Super (currently age 65) (Qualifying Age).**

5. You could take most of your savings out early to use towards buying your first home.*** You might also qualify for a First Home Grant worth up to $10,000.

6. You can take a savings suspension.

 72781WP Kiwisaver Get Invested graph

 Four simple steps to getting started

1. Decide what kind of investment fund suits you best depending on your timeframe and risk profile.

2. Work out how much you’ll need for your retirement (or, just make a start and look at the figures later).

3. Work out how much you want to contribute, and how often, to reach your savings goal.

4. Contact Westpac and set up your Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme account.

 

* There are a few exceptions when you might be able to access your money earlier.

 ** If you first joined KiwiSaver before 1 July 2019 and were aged 60-65 at that time, your savings will be locked in for 5 years. However, from 1 April 2020, you will be able to elect out of the 5 year lock-in and access your money from age 65. If you do so you will lose eligibility for Government contributions and compulsory employer contributions.

*** You can't withdraw any amounts transferred from an Australian complying Superannuation scheme. You must maintain a balance of at least $1,000 in your KiwiSaver account.

Who's eligible to join

You can join KiwiSaver if:

  • you’re a New Zealand citizen, or you’re entitled to live here indefinitely; and
  • you normally live in New Zealand (there are some exceptions)

You can be:

  • employed; or
  • self-employed; or
  • not working
  • under 18

And if you already have KiwiSaver with someone else, you can transfer to the Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme quickly and easily.

 

Getting your money out

In most cases, your KiwiSaver savings are locked away until you qualify for New Zealand Superannuation (currently age 65). Note: if you first joined a KiwiSaver scheme before 1 July 2019 and you were over 60 when you joined, you won't be eligible to withdraw your savings for at least 5 years from when you joined.*

But there are certain circumstances where an early withdrawal may be possible:

  • Buying your first home.
  • Significant financial hardship.
  • Serious illness or death.
  • If you leave New Zealand and move overseas permanently (except if you move to Australia).
  • To meet a tax liability or additional student loan repayment obligation arising from a transfer to KiwiSaver from an overseas superannuation scheme.
  • Where required by law.

Read more about early withdrawals here.

* From 1 April 2020, these members will be able to elect out of the 5 year lock-in and access their funds from age 65. However, if they do so they lose eligibility for Government contributions and compulsory employer contributions.