KiwiSaver providers have dumped at least $109 million in controversial weapon and tobacco investments following a Herald investigation into responsible investment policies.

The Insights series Dirty Secrets of Your KiwiSaver found providers managing the retirement savings accounts for more than 2 million New Zealanders had made $153m of investments in companies blacklisted for ethical reasons by the government-run New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

The companies included a swathe of armaments firms involved in making cluster bombs, landmines and nuclear weapons - munitions banned under New Zealand law - and firms making tobacco or guilty of gross human rights abuses.

In the four weeks since the story broke, first covered by RNZ's Anusha Bradley, KiwiSaver providers have moved swiftly to distance themselves and their clients' funds from the controversy.


According to Herald analysis of disclosures to the Financial Markets Authority and interviews with providers, it appears 99.6 per cent of KiwiSaver holdings in companies making banned weapons (or $43.25m out of $43.44m originally invested) has been, or are in the process of being, dumped.

Aon, the only provider retaining a stake in the broad sector, said its own screening research had concluded - contrary to NZSF findings - that US firm General Dynamics was not involved in the production of cluster munitions.

The matter of investments in the weapons companies had raised potential legal concerns, with official advice to Minister of Commerce Paul Goldsmith suggesting locals laws banning the weapons - and support of them - applied to KiwiSaver fund managers.

Goldsmith said it was up to Police to decide to look into the matter, spurring a formal complaint by Amnesty International.

Last week Police, after consultation with the Financial Market Authority, declined to investigate saying there were "significant threshold issues" as fund management often involved indirect investments in secondary markets.