March 2023

BY JAN PENTECOST - National President Grey Power NZ Federation INC.

Firstly, I want to wish you all the very best year possible. And to pass on my hope that not too many of you are affected by the shocking weather which has occurred in some parts of New Zealand. And if you were that you have access to all the assistance you need.

If you have stories about this event to tell please pass them on to me at jan.pentecost@gmail.com or send a letter to me ℅ Federation Office PO Box 2721719. Papakura 2244.

What’s happening on the farmlet?

It has been a very quiet holiday time on our little farmlet, I have to say, although we seem to have acquired a new member who likes to socialise with the sheep, including the very portly lambs. I personally would have thought our resident Pūkeko flock were more appropriate buddies, but the new addition named ‘ogle’, ‘ogle’ (a turkey) scorns their company.

And he or she survived Christmas I am very pleased to report. In fact, this turkey has a very well-developed survival sense. It can flatten itself in the grass if it senses danger to its person. Notwithstanding this, we are a little concerned that it might suffer an untimely end when we make hay. Let’s hope the tractor driver has good eyesight. A squashed turkey is not on our agenda.

Secondly, and more importantly here are some highlights to keep you up to date with national Grey Power Federation happenings.

Federation highlights

As I reported in our last magazine the national Federation lobby team was to visit decision-makers in Wellington in December to push for answers to members’ concerns; the acting national secretary had made all the appointments and other necessary arrangements and we were all set to go. But a few days beforehand we had to cancel the visit because I ended up at the centre of a very small tragedy.

In late November I addressed the Howick Pakuranga Grey Power meeting at their invitation and the newly appointed Aged Care Commissioner Carolyn Cooper also addressed members.

I thought I made a reasonably gracious start to my address and felt that it went well but the descent from the podium back to my seat left a lot to be desired. I missed my footing and fell, sprawling in a very undignified heap, right in front of the Aged Care Commissioner.

But as in all situations there are positives – I managed the flight back home to Christchurch with a massively swollen ankle which an x-ray discovered was sprained, but not broken. It has now mended well. But much more importantly, it was great to hear Carolyn’s address covered many of the older persons’ issues that Grey Power is working on such as the loss of home support care hours etc., And we will be able to work on these together as we already do with other like-minded organisations.

Talking of Grey Power’s relationships with kindred organisations I am really pleased to report that we are now looking at how we can work with the Retirement Villages Residents Association on compatible interests.

W the Grey Power Federation Board has been been up to

The Federation board had a very fruitful December meeting so please take a look at what we worked on, on your behalf.

A Federation transport policy was accepted by the board and a proposal for the Federation to commission research with the following objectives was agreed to:

  • Determine the public and members’ perception and awareness of the Grey Power Federation as a lobby organization advocating for older New Zealanders.
  • Determine the perceived role and effectiveness of Grey Power Federation compared to other agencies/organisations perceived by those surveyed to be also advocating for older New Zealanders.
  • Determine the key perceived barriers to the membership for those who are not currently members of Grey Power.
  • Determine the key concerns of both members and non-members for themselves, or their parents, in retirement.
  • Obtain feedback on the recognition and perception of the current Grey Power logo from members and non-members.

Our general NZ election strategy campaign will begin in February 2023 to remind those who wish to govern our country that currently there are about 842,000 older people living in NZ and that the number of people aged 65 years or older is likely to hit 1 million in the next few years. This means that positive government policy must include older people. We have to matter. But we are not greedy, we just want a fair deal to assist vulnerable older people!

The board was updated on the arrangements for the 2023 AGM, Grey Power lobbying on the severe reduction of in-home support services, Grey Power support for pay parity for nurses in aged care facilities, how community involvement in the new health system was being advanced, the portability of NZ Superannuation to countries with no reciprocal agreements with NZ and the progress of the re-vamped Federation website.

We also discussed the variation between IRD and MSD in assessing income, especially for those who receive NZS and have a non-qualifying partner. The basic difference is that IRD is only interested in taxable income, while MSD, when calculating eligibility for additional benefits or allowances considers all income including those sources that are not subject to tax – such as Covid 19 income relief payments, winter energy payments, etc. This methodology is supposed to ensure that the support the Government pays out is based on the need of the applicant.

Yet another interesting question is why, in a household where one partner is non-qualifying for superannuation payments the household only receives half the married rate of NZS, rather than the single living alone rate which is higher than the former rate? This occurs because MSD assumes, under the current legislation that the eligible partner will have to pay only half the household costs, therefore they receive 50 percent of the NZS rate for couples. In contrast, a retiree who is living in accommodation with others is eligible for the single living alone amount. This is 21 percent higher.

A revision of Section 8 of the Social Security Act is required to better address today’s more diverse living arrangements and to ensure fairness. We also advise that those finding themselves in financial difficulties as a couple dependent on half the couples’ rate for NZS should approach WINZ to determine if they are eligible for other benefits or allowances to support them until the other partner is eligible for NZS.

On behalf of the Federation Board, I hope that this information has provided you with some ideas on our work nationally. After all, as our members, you are the most important part of the Grey Power family, therefore, your questions and views etc., are very welcome because we, the board, are working for you all.

Other items:

  • Grey Power has welcomed the recently appointed Minister of Seniors, the Hon. Ginny Andersen and we look forward to working with her on older persons’ concerns.
  • We would like to remind members that COVID-19 antiviral medicines are available free for those 65 or older, Māori or Pacific aged 50 or older, or you have a severely weakened immune system or certain medical conditions directly from many pharmacies without a prescription. Antiviral medicines reduce the amount of COVID-19 virus in your body to reduce the chance you get sick enough that you need hospital treatment. To be effective, they must be started within 5 days of becoming ill.

Individuals can find out if they’re eligible for free antivirals by visiting COVID19.health.nz or by talking to a pharmacist. Healthpoint.co.nz provides listings of pharmacies that offer antivirals, so they can find one near them.

Finally, if you have good ideas on how to increase our membership, or stories, concerns or other thoughts please let me know at jan.pentecost@gmail.com or write to the Federation Office, PO Box 2721719, Papakura 2244.

Please take care and be kind to yourselves.

Jan Pentecost
President


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