A Tauranga who spent 58 years living and working in New Zealand is calling for a law change after a wrangle over his pension.

Bent Jansen, who arrived from Denmark as a 21-year-old newly qualified fitter and turner, has joined other long-established kiwis seeking changes to pension laws.

His cause has received a sympathetic ear from Labour list MP Jan Tinetti of Tauranga, who said it was exactly the reason why the Government was looking at these situations.

The 79-year-old Papamoa resident and Classic Flyers Museum volunteer had been receiving the pension for 12 years when a letter arrived out of the blue from Work and Income.


Someone had picked up that his working life began in Denmark, opening up the possibility that he was being overpaid for his pension.

Jansen was told he had to apply for the Danish pension, even though three of his four years working in Denmark were as an apprentice earning a pittance.

''I felt guilty about asking the Danish Government for this.''

Warned that some of his pension would be taken away if he did not apply, Jansen said he tried to tell Work and Income that it was not right because he had lived the full amount of time in New Zealand needed to qualify for the pension and had never been unemployed.

''It made me angry ... it has taken years to sort this out.''

While Work and Income was technically operating within the letter of the law, he decided to go public with his story after reading how other people faced similar situations.

He saw the logic of the law for pensioners who had spent big chunks of their working lives in their native countries, but he felt hardworking migrants like him were being unfairly penalised.

Apart from the emotional toll, he wondered if the two years of paperwork and time involved putting his case to government officials would be worth it once the money landed in his bank account from Denmark. It would then be transferred to Work and Income.


Jansen said he had not been told how much he would be receiving from Denmark, but felt sure it would not be much. ''Why bother for such a small amount.''

''I am disappointed that having lived here for so many years, I was faced with this. Somebody, somewhere found out I was a Dane.''

Jansen said it probably would not have happened if he had taken out New Zealand citizenship but had never bothered because he had all the rights of other New Zealanders.

''I never worried about it.''

He found government officials were polite but he had no luck putting his case to the head of Work and Income's investigation branch.

''They said they were following the letter of the law. They probably are - this is what my stand is about. It should not be like this.''

Tinetti said she was not aware of Mr Jansen's case but it was exactly the reason the Government was looking at these situations.

''He is one of many people who have come to light. That is why it needs looking into, to see how widespread it is.''

''Finding situations where laws did not work for our very good people that live here is a critical part of my job as a Parliamentarian,'' Tinetti said.

Justine Cornwall, senior international and policy manager for the Ministry of Social Development, said the treatment of overseas government-administered pensions was determined by section 70 of the Social Security Act 1964.

''The law recognises fairness in the way all New Zealanders are treated as people with overseas pensions getting the same amount as other New Zealanders.

''One of our roles is to ensure income assistance and services is provided to the people that need it.

''We're happy to look into Mr Jansen's experience for him and whether we can offer him any further support,'' Cornwall said.