Great-grandparents Charmaine and Hamish McNeilage enjoy a contented life in the Wairarapa, where they live on $617 a week from NZ Super.

Hamish worked as a printer in Masterton, and Charmaine was a Parliamentary secretary’s assistant in Wellington. Their lifestyle hasn’t changed too much in retirement, since they were accustomed to living on a reduced income after Hamish’s health problems led to him retire early at 57.

“We find we can make our couple’s allowance go a long way. We make the most of our money and are lucky the things we enjoy doing don’t cost us much,” Charmaine says.

“But travel is definitely one of the things we can’t do much of. One of our sons lives in Italy and we’ve visited him once. It would be nice if we could afford to go again.”

The couple didn’t think much about saving for retirement, but concentrated on paying off their lifestyle block.  In retirement, they downsized their home and bought a property in town, with better access to local facilities.

They are grateful for the public healthcare system, which has paid for a lot of Hamish’s health needs, including upgrading their bathroom for wheelchair access. But they’ve had to cover many of the costs themselves.

“Our home is freehold, but when we need extra money we take out a small mortgage. It means we can afford to pay for things like home maintenance, which we pay back as quickly as we can,” Charmaine says. 


Comments (3)

Gravatar for Andrew


12:56pm | 28 Sep 2019

Wendy: there is - unfortunately in my view - a thing called the non qualifying spouse provision whereby you qualify for a very slightly reduced superannuation payment by way of your spouse qualifying. The rate is 601.22 each fortnightly versus 632.54 each if you both qualified.

The concept is outdated, but there you go.

Gravatar for Wendy


5:28pm | 21 Aug 2019

If my husband is retired and I lose my job is my husband able to apply for a married pension?

Gravatar for Glenis


3:39pm | 14 Apr 2019

How can you repay a mortgage on the Super.