Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Older workers in no hurry to retire (+poll)

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Ian Wilson set up his own kiwifruit contracting business at 67 after deciding retirement was not for him.

He retired from his job as a transport manager when he turned 65, but two years later he was bored and needed a new challenge. A year ago he invested in the equipment to set himself up as a kiwifruit contractor.

"It's great. It's outdoors and I'm working with machinery, which I like," he said.

"I decided retirement wasn't for me."


He is not alone in that.

New figures show a third of the Western Bay District's people of pension age are still in paid employment but only about 12 per cent of their Tauranga City counterparts are working.

Statistics New Zealand Labour Force statistics showed 2900 of the 8800 people aged over 65 in the Western Bay of Plenty district were still working in the first quarter of this year. In Tauranga city, 3000 of the 25,500 people over 65 were working during the same period.

In the past 20 years, the proportion of all New Zealanders over retirement age in paid employment has more than quadrupled, from 4.8 per cent in the first quarter of 1993 to 20 per cent in the same period this year.

Tauranga Chartered Accountant Don Pilbrow, 67, has no desire to retire after more than 45 years in the profession: "I just still love the work and the people contact. I still love coming to work every day. If you are doing a job you love, why give it up?"

Mr Pilbrow said his job often involved charity work, so there was no need to retire in order to give something back.

"Apart from playing bowls or golf, what else extra can I do if I retired?"

Malcolm Menzies, research manager for the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, said the higher number of pensioners working in the Western Bay was possibly due to the rural lifestyle.

"Maybe there are more people of that age working part time on orchards and farms," Dr Menzies said.

"Perhaps people go to Tauranga to retire."

A number of factors contributed to the upward trend throughout the country, he said.

"People are living longer and they know the need to prepare for a longer retirement. Some people just like their job.

"We suspect some people suffered losses in the finance company collapses and they are working to recover from that," Dr Menzies said.

Coastal Bay of Plenty and Districts Grey Power president Ruth Dekker said the high number of pensioners in the work force was largely a result of the difficulty that came from living on superannuation alone.

"I would think it is impossible to maintain one's health [on the pension]," she said.

While many people kept working because they needed the money, others just wanted something to do.

"It is quite difficult to retire if you've always been working as a professional person," she said. "It takes a while to find things that interest you that you can give your time to."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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