By Ruci Farrell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior citizens from Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands will soon be eligible to receive their pensions in the islands without living in New Zealand for a mandatory five years after they turn 50.
The changes to the Social Assistance Bill passed in Parliament this week which will allow those who have lived in New Zealand for 10 years, after the age of 20, to move or return to any of those Pacific countries without having to return to New Zealand to qualify for their pension.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the changes recognises the special relationship New Zealand has with Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands.
She says it gives senior citizens from the realm countries more options about where they choose to retire.
"Many of our Pacific peoples looking to go back and contribute to their own homelands after the age of 50 won't be penalised or discouraged from doing so."
“We also want to ensure that people living in countries and territories that have close constitutional ties with New Zealand are treated fairly and their ongoing economic and social viability is supported."