The average superannuation balance for an Aussie bloke is more than nine times the average amount Kiwis have put aside for their retirement in KiwiSaver and it's unlikely Kiwis will ever catch up, an expert says.

Figures released by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia show the average balance for an Australian male is A$98,535 ($106,996) and A$54,916 ($59,648) for a female.

Compare that to the average KiwiSaver balance of $11,440 and it's no wonder so many superannuation experts look at Australia with envy.

Sure Australia's compulsory super has been going much longer - it began in 1992, while KiwiSaver started in 2007.


But Massey University KiwiSaver expert Claire Matthews says even with time Kiwis might not catch up to their Australian cousins.

"I'm not sure that we will, simply because our contribution rates are lower."

Australia's contribution rate rose half a percentage point to 9.5 per cent last year and there are plans to increase it to 12 per cent by 2025.

New Zealand's combined employer and employee rate is 6 per cent plus the government's top up of $521 a year for savers who put in at least $1043 a year.

And then there are the people signed up to KiwiSaver who don't contribute.

Up to 43 per cent of KiwiSaver members are classed as non-contributing, although many are children.

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When KiwiSaver was first launched by the Labour government employer and employee contributions were set to increase to a combined 8 per cent over time.


But the National government put a stop to the increase and also watered down the government contribution by halving it amid tougher economic times.

This year the $1000 kick-start was axed for new sign-ups.

Matthews said a more important figure to look at was how much people saved by the point of retirement.

The research found on average Australian males had A$292,500 and females had A$138,150 at the point of retirement.

While those figures appeared high Matthews said Australians needed more money than Kiwis as their age pension was means tested where as New Zealand Superannuation is paid to everyone who qualifies at age 65 regardless of what other money they earn.

ASFA noted retirees were still short of the minimum A$545,000 needed by a single person to live a comfortable retirement.


Matthews said the biggest worry to come out of the figures was the difference between how much men and women were able to save - an issue that was likely to be similar in New Zealand.

I would be surprised if we didn't have a similar disparity here.

Earlier this year ANZ released research in which it estimated Kiwi women on average were likely to retire with $144,000, compared to $203,000 for men.

Matthews said for women heading into retirement as part of a couple with a female and a male the combined retirement savings didn't look too bad.

"But not everyone will be in that situation."