Search for post-work pur­pose

It’s hard to gen­er­alise about re­tire­ment age, re­tiree says.

New Zealand Listener - - AFFORDABLE RETIREMENT -

In many ways, Mau­reen Good­win is a typ­i­cal re­tiree. Like 70% of New Zealand pen­sion­ers, the Lower Hutt widow is mort­gage-free. Two years ago, she re­tired, aged 67, af­ter work­ing as a sec­re­tary for more than 50 years. She copes fi­nan­cially on her $23,000 NZ Su­per, topped up by sav­ings and money from the Gov­ern­ment Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Scheme she joined in 1990. Hers is a “no frills’’ re­tire­ment – she is nei­ther wealthy nor strug­gling.

The grand­mother of two has friends who are worse off than her, and some who are do­ing okay. How­ever, she thinks our ris­ing pen­sion bill is un­sus­tain­able, par­tic­u­larly as we are liv­ing longer.

She has mixed feel­ings about whether the age should be hiked or the pen­sion re­stricted. “The age of 65 is such a mixed bag. Some peo­ple can seem quite old at that

age, while oth­ers can be run­ning busi­nesses or do­ing all sorts of things, so it’s very hard to gen­er­alise.’’

How­ever, she does be­lieve the New Zealand work cul­ture should do more to sup­port older em­ploy­ees. In her last role, as an ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant at a gov­ern­ment de­part­ment, she looked af­ter 12 dif­fer­ent man­agers over eight years. She started to feel out of place – some of the gen­eral man­agers were the same age as her sons. In March 2016, Good­win says, “I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. I set such high stan­dards for my­self.’’

For her, though, a job gave her a sense of pur­pose, and also ex­tra in­come she could save for re­tire­ment. Younger col­leagues seemed en­vi­ous that she was about to re­tire. “While they thought that, I felt so thank­ful to be still in a job as long as I was,’’ she says.

On the brink of her 70th birth­day, Good­win feels like she doesn’t fit in any­where. When she visits re­tire­ment vil­lages and at­tends events for older New Zealan­ders, she often feels out of place. “The stereo­type of be­ing re­tired or a se­nior is a chal­lenge. I don’t know where I be­long.’’

“The stereo­type of be­ing a se­nior is a chal­lenge. I don’t know where I be­long.”

Mau­reen Good­win be­lieves work­places could do more to cater for older em­ploy­ees. Below, tak­ing in Wash­ing­ton on a post-re­tire­ment trip; at home in Lower Hutt.

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