Helping older people to work if they want to and countering ageism are key aspects of the Government's plan to support New Zealand's ageing population.
The strategy, called Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034, was launched today by Seniors Minister Tracey Martin and aims to ensure older people can participate in society and be valued as they age.
"It has also been designed to ensure New Zealand is prepared for and makes the most of our ageing population," Martin said in a statement.
By 2034, 1.2 million New Zealanders - about a quarter of the population - will be aged 65+, and an estimated 179,000 people will be aged 85+, twice as many as last year.
• Government to spend almost $8 million on a new website and creating a SuperGold card app
• Digital Seniors to combat exclusion of elderly with free tech help
• Seniors and veterans to get pension rises
• Senior tennis: Ohakune ace Karen Cranston to captain Kiwi team at world senior champs in Portugal
The number of Māori aged 65+ will more than double (from 48,500 to 109,400) between 2018 and 2034, as will the senior Pacific population (from 21,300 to 46,700), while the number of senior Asian New Zealanders will almost triple (from 59,500 to 171,900).
Seniors currently make up around 6.2 per cent of the workforce, but that is expected to grow to 10.6 per cent by 2033.
The demographic shifts will have implications for the economy, workforce, housing, health and aged care, and social services, Martin said.
Better Later Life has five key areas for action:
• Financial security and economic participation
• Healthy ageing and improving access to services
• Diverse housing choices and options
• Opportunities for participation and social connection
• Making environments accessible.
"For example, two key areas of the strategy are supporting seniors in the workforce, and promoting housing options appropriate for older people," Martin said.
"It is also important as a country that we have policies and initiatives that help people to keep connections throughout their lives and stop them being isolated or lonely.
"Ageism, discrimination, negative stereotypes and attitudes towards older people all impact on the quality of later working lives and are considered in the strategy."
An action plan will be developed based on the strategy's key areas and progress will be tracked by two-yearly reporting on what has been done.
The Government has already upgraded the SuperGold website and announced plans to introduce a new SuperGold app.
It also has the Age-friendly New Zealand programme which, among other things, aims to have wide pedestrian crossings and footpaths, public transport to health centres, shops and parks, and affordable housing close to services.
Martin launched the strategy at the Better Later Working Lives Forum at Parliament this morning.
"The forum is a great opportunity to talk about the ageing workforce and to address the challenges that people over 50 often face in participating in the workforce."