PRESIDENT’S REPORT: The more members we can get to support us the more likely we are to effect change.

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

Welcome to the first President’s chat for 2024 and a belated, but very happy, safe, and fulfilling New Year to you all.

My New Year’s wish is that no one says older people don’t matter. This is a comment I have heard many times from members, and my hope is that Grey Power can play a big part in making older people matter to everyone, especially to those decision-makers and others in New Zealand who can change things for vulnerable older people.

The Federation Board’s core business is about making older people matter. Consequently our vision is for “a country where seniors live in dignity enjoying a rewarding and sustainable quality of life” and our mission is “to make New Zealand the best country in the world in which to retire.”

For this to occur the board has adopted the focus areas of our strategic plan, which include the Federation’s advocacy work for 2023/2024.

We will be concentrating on the higher cost of living for low-income households, suitable affordable housing which will include property rates (rates rebate), affordable rental provision, and an increase in the cash asset threshold for the accommodation supplement, transport incorporating options for those without a driver’s licence which will include continuation of work on the over 80’s driving tests, and health issues will also be canvassed. Finally law and order especially personal safety and New Zealand superannuation and supplementary benefits will also be on the Federation advocacy priority list.

Grey Power will be asking the government and opposition politicians what their policies are to provide the best possible life for vulnerable older people in the above areas.

Let us know your views

If you have any stories, thoughts etc., about our advocacy issues that will help us carry out and change older peoples’ lives for the better please let us know.

Consequently, as you can see, we will be very busy lobbying face-to-face, writing submissions, utilising media including social media, considering campaigns, petitions and supporting other groups that are working towards similar goals. All of this depends on grassroots support from members. The more members we can get to support us the more likely we are to effect change especially if we time our work to coincide with topics to which the public are sensitive to at this moment in time.

In fact, we have already begun our work. On December 12 I received a call from the Minister of Seniors’ Office informing me that the Minister would very much appreciate meeting with Grey Power before Christmas; Lew Findlay and I met with the Honourable Casey Costello on December the 21st in Wellington.

The meeting was mainly a ‘meet and greet’ although the Minister’s office suggested that Grey Power speak briefly about its main issues, as provided above, which we did.

We also discussed some of the seniors’ policies which were part of the NZ First Coalition agreement with National and are also Grey Power policy such as the superannuation age to remain at 65, a review of the Retirement Villages Act, investigation of residential care funding, a select committee inquiry into aged care provision, and the update of the Super Gold Card.

We did, however, point out that it will be the government’s policy details and the action/implementation which occurs from these that will be important to Grey Power.

We left a briefing paper of our main issues for 2024 with the Minister and I asked her to seriously consider the Federation’s key issues when attending to their policy details. Other Ministers and Opposition spokespeople will also receive position papers from Grey Power when we visit them on our up-coming lobby visit.

It is well-documented that older New Zealanders contribute much to the New Zealand economy. In 2021 we learnt that they spent $31 billion per year, paid tax totalling $9.7 billion, and earned $37 billion. Also, very importantly, older people contributed $14-$15 billion through unpaid work. (Business-of-Ageing-2021-report.pdf–

As the Ministry of Social Development states:

“[Older people] have skills, knowledge, and experience to contribute to society and the expected growth in the proportion of older people during the coming decades will provide New Zealand with a valuable resource. Further, continued participation in older age has benefits for the individual concerned, the community, and the country as a whole.” (Towards a Society for All Ages – Ministry of Social Development –

We do matter, by not only contributing to New Zealand’s economy but in many aspects of New Zealand life.

Related: PRESIDENT’S REPORT: November 2023

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