SuperSeniors Title

April 2019




In this issue

Minister for Seniors, Tracey Martin, talks about the new draft strategy for an ageing population.

Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034 has been developed after talking to hundreds of people across the country and will help inform how we look after our older people for the next 15 years and beyond.

It covers issues from housing, health, transport, and diversity. Take a look at the story inside and make sure to have your say when the consultation opens later this month.

We also talk to Senior New Zealander of the Year Dr Bill Glass. Dr Glass has worked in occupational health for over 60 years and has drawn attention to the unseen fatal effects of toxic substances in the workplace. He was recognised during a special ceremony in February and follows the 2018 recipient, Kim Workman.

If you’re getting NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension, you’ll also get the Winter Energy Payment from 1 May

Take a read to find out more about the payments rates and the annual adjustment to NZ Superannuation.

Finally, if you are looking for a healthy but hearty meal make sure you check out our Minestrone Soup recipe from the NZ Nutrition Foundation.

From Minister Tracey Martin

Tracey Martin

I can’t start this column without talking about the monstrous events that happened in Christchurch last month. My thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch and all those affected.

It has been a shock to all of New Zealand because this is not who we are. We are a peaceful nation and we try exceptionally hard to treat each other with respect on a day-to-day basis.

We’ve seen so much love and generosity and response and the good in this has to be that as a nation we come closer together.

Later this month I will release the new draft strategy for an ageing population – Better Later Life - in Auckland.

We have listened to what you told us during our consultation last year and made sure the new draft strategy focuses on what you told us was important to you. It reflects the issues facing the seniors of today, and importantly the seniors of tomorrow.

Just as we are a diverse country and peoples’ needs are different, I know the issues facing older Kiwis are complex and broad, which is why the draft strategy covers five major themes. These are around financial security, health, housing, safety, and social connections and the way our communities are physically built so that they are accessible to all people.

Better Later Life 2019-2034 is a new way forward and will help inform how we look after our older people for the next 15 years and beyond. But as I’ve accentuated, it is a draft, a discussion document, and we need to know that we’ve got it right. There are a number of ways you can have your say. You can make a submission online at, talk with the Office for Seniors via its social media channels or send it through the post.

Consultation will open later this month and close on 3 June 2019.

The next steps will be to review submissions because we want to finalise and launch the new strategy – and get on with implementing it - later this year.

This month also marks World Health Day and a chance to reflect on your health and the health of your family and friends.

In the last newsletter I spoke about my aim to become a little healthier this year and it’s something I’m building on.

A big part of being healthy and staying healthy is working with your doctor on what is right for you.

You can read more about the Choosing Wisely campaign from the Council of Medical Colleges in this newsletter. The campaign is encouraging older people to talk to their doctor about whether they could take fewer medicines and whether they really need a test, treatment or procedure. I encourage you to take a read.

And don’t forget to get your flu shot this month, if you haven’t already.

Senior New Zealander of the Year

Dr Bill Glass has been recognised for his life-long dedication to occupational health in New Zealand by being named the 2019 Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year.

For over 60 years he has drawn attention to the unseen fatal effects of toxic substances in the workplace and is behind the creation of the Asbestos Exposure Register.

Despite his success, he said his career started by chance.

He began his career as a house surgeon in
New Zealand but decided the late nights didn’t
suit so he packed his bags and headed to London.

He roomed in a boarding house with other
housemates, including the Senior Lecturer in
Occupational Medicine at the London School
of Hygiene and Topical Medicine.

With no other offers he was convinced to meet
with the head of the school and was soon accepted into its post-graduate program.

He said one of his most cherished memories from his 60-year career was when he was asked to present the annual James Smiley Lecture in Dublin.

“I was a bit surprised, I was the first occupational physician in the southern hemisphere to be asked to give the James Smiley address,” he said.

“In the morning his widow Elizabeth took me to
high-tea at a nice hotel, it was all a bit overwhelming.

I had to give the address in the afternoon after lunchwell of course many of the doctors were being honoured so had lunch and a few whiskeys - it wasn’t long until I realised a few in the audience were quietly snoozing.

“The person who wasn’t, was Elizabeth Smiley
who was sitting in the front row, very attentive, and asked the first question.”

He said he was surprised but honoured to receive the Senior New Zealander of the Year award.

“It was bit surprising, but it was very nice to get 60 years practice of occupational medicine

Bill Glass

Dr Bill Glass (left)

Have your say on Better Later Life

Last year we asked you to have your say on a new strategy for an ageing population.

We have gone through the 469 submissions received and have developed a new draft strategy - Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034.

Its purpose is to drive actions to ensure all
New Zealanders recognise older people’s potential and the opportunities of older age.

The number of people over the age of 65 is
increasing and this trend is set continue.

People are not only living much longer, they are also healthier for longer. This longevity means that we need to rethink the existing ideas around old age and later life.

Minister for Seniors, Tracey Martin, is asking for feedback on the draft strategy and whether it is
on the right track in making the future better for New Zealanders as we age.

Better Later Life                              He Oranga Kaumātua                               2019 to 2034

Public consultation on the draft strategy will start later this month and will close on 3 June.

Keep an eye out on the SuperSeniors website for more information on the draft strategy and how you can provide feedback.

Annual increase to NZ Super

NZ Super and Veteran’s Pension payments are
adjusted each year to reflect increases in the
cost of living, inflation and the average wage.

From 1 April payments will increase to:

  • $720.84 each before tax or $632.54 each after ‘M’ tax for a married couple who both qualify
  • $950.84 before tax or $822.30 after ‘M’ tax for a single person living alone
  • $874.28 before tax or $759.04 after ‘M’ tax for a single person sharing accommodation.

The first full payment at the new rate will
be on 16 April.

For a full summary of the new rates go to and search for
benefit rates 2019’.

Cheryl’s family on board with her advance care plan

Wellingtonian Cheryl Cameron knows she can go from being pretty well to really unwell quite quickly, so has thought about what she wants for her future health care.

Cheryl, 73, has Parkinson’s disease, an incurable, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

She features in Kia kōrero | Let’s talk, a new campaign that encourages people to plan for their future health care, with a focus on what matters to them. It features the personal stories of six New Zealanders at different stages of life and wellness.

Advance care planning is a way to help you think about, talk about and share what matters to you for your future health care. Having an advance care plan will help you and those around you understand what is important to you, what treatment and care you would like or would prefer not to have, and who can make decisions on your behalf if you’re not able to.

Cheryl has lived with Parkinson’s for more than 11 years and came to the idea of advance care planning when she had an emergency visit to the hospital.

“It made me think about at what point I would want to stop medical intervention. So, I’ve written down my wishes, and my husband Gary and I have shared it with our children, so that they all know my thoughts if they’re confronted with hard decisions.”

Cheryl Cameron

She says her family is very accepting of her decisions and reassured that she’s thought about the care she does and doesn’t want if she is ever unable to speak for herself.

A copy of her advance care plan is also lodged with her GP. “It’s very freeing knowing that it’s done. And, of course, it’s easily updated any time.”

For more information go to the Health Quality
and Safety Commission at


Don't forget to ask for your SuperGold discount - Flash your card

Choose wisely and review your medicines

The Council of Medical Colleges (CMC) is encouraging people to talk to their doctor about whether they could take fewer medicines.

The CMC coordinates the Choosing Wisely campaign, which encourages patients to ask their health professional whether they really need a test, treatment or procedure.

More isn’t always better when it comes to medical tests, treatments and procedures. Unnecessary
interventions are stressful and can lead to more
testing to investigate false positives.

In New Zealand, 35 per cent of people aged over 65 are taking five or more long-term medications.

Choosing Wisely clinical lead Dr Derek Sherwood says it is important people get their medicines
reviewed regularly. “This helps make sure you are receiving the best treatment. When a doctor or pharmacist reviews your medicines they will check things like what medicines you are taking and why, how many different medicines you are taking and any side effects you may be experiencing.”

Dr Sherwood says stopping a medicine can seem daunting, especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time.

“However, many older people successfully stop medicines without feeling worse. In fact, you may feel better and improve your quality of life – especially if your symptoms were being caused by your medicines. Talk this over with your GP or specialist.”

Find out more at the Choosing Wisely website at

More isn't always better... when it comes to medical tests, treatment and procedures... Talk to your health professional about what is best for you and your whanau.

Get ready for winter with insulation grants

Many New Zealand homes aren’t warm enough in winter, increasing the risk of respiratory illness.

Putting on another jersey doesn’t help because you are still breathing in cold air. A warm, dry insulated home is healthier and easier to heat.

If you own and live in your own home, you may be eligible for a Government grant offering two thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation. In some regions contributions by community organisations mean there is minimal or no cost to the homeowner. These Warmer Kiwi Homes grants are run through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

You may qualify if:

  • your home was built before the year 2008
  • you are the homeowner (owner-occupier) and have a Community Services Card or SuperGold combo card, or
  • you own and live in a home in an area identified as low-income.

You may also be eligible if you hold a licence to occupy in a retirement village.

To find out if you are eligible free phone 0800 749 782 to talk to EECA Energywise or use the eligibility tool on the Energywise website

Grants for heat pumps and wood burners will be available from July this year. The same eligibility criteria will apply.

Woman and Child

ELDER ABUSE IT’S NOT OK. If you see or suspect elder abuse, please, speak out about it. Call 0800 EA NOT OK (0800 32 668 65)

Winter Energy Payment starts again on 1 May

If you’re getting NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension, you’ll also get the Winter Energy Payment from 1 May to 1 October each year. You don’t have to apply, you’ll get it automatically with your other payments.

Couples and people with dependent children will get $31.82 a week and single people will get $20.46 a week.

Travelling overseas

If you’re heading away from New Zealand over the winter months you can keep getting your Winter Energy Payment for up to 28 days.

It’s really important you let MSD know if you’ll be away for more than 28 days, otherwise they might pay you too much and have to ask for the money back.

The easiest way to let MSD know is using the form on their website - or give them a call.

Don’t forget to get in touch when you return from your travels so your payment can be started again.

Payments to couples

If you’re a couple getting NZ Super or Veteran’s Pension, the Winter Energy Payment will all be paid to one person at the full couple rate. Unfortunately MSD can’t split the payment between you.

If you’d like the payment switched to the other person’s account just give them a call.

Opting out or back in

If you don’t want the Winter Energy Payment you can choose to opt out using the form on 
You can get it again by asking MSD to restart it.

More information:

Woman smiling, holding cup saying 'You are the best'

Minestrone Soup

Summer salads are out and hearty soups are back in. Try this delicious Minestrone Soup recipe from the NZ Nutrition Foundation. Serves 2-3.


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1x 425g can tomatoes (chopped /diced)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable stock powder
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1/3 cup dried pasta
  • ½ cup mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1x 400g can mixed beans or red kidney beans (drained)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of ½ lemon 
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan or tasty cheese
  • Small handful of fresh herbs to garnish.


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft
  • Add tinned tomatoes, vegetable stock powder, water and dried herbs. Bring to boil
  • Stir in pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is cooked
  • Add frozen vegetables and tinned beans. Cook for another 3 minutes or until they are heated through. Add lemon juice. Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese and finely chopped fresh herbs

Minestrone soup in a bowl

Health and Disability Deputy Commissioner

Late last year the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) released a report about medication errors, based on complaints data.

Medication is the most common healthcare
intervention and most of the time the care provided in regard to medicine is very good. However, medication errors do have the potential to cause significant harm and it is vital to learn from the information we have.

The report highlighted common issues for doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals to be aware of when prescribing, dispensing or administering medicine but it also served as a timely reminder of the steps we as individuals can take to reduce harm.

Human error happens but the more information you have about your medication, the better position you’ll be in to act as your own safety net.

Take the time to talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about your prescription and ask questions. Know the name of your medicine; write it down if you need to.

Find out what the medicine is used for, when, and how often you should take it. Ask if there are any side effects you can expect.

Alert them to any potential issues, such as allergies or reactions you’ve had to other medicines in the past.

Keep track of any changes to your medications, especially when you see your doctor or if you’ve been discharged from hospital.

Check whether you need any tests or monitoring while you’re taking a medicine.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Well

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall

If you’re on a repeat prescription, your doctor will be able to tell you how often you should be reviewed to make sure it continues to be the right one for your current condition.

Most New Zealanders taking medication will receive safe and effective care but it is important we take every opportunity to work together with health professionals to reduce the potential for errors to occur.

HDC’s report on medication errors can be found on our website at

Help shape future NZSL video interpreting and relay services

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment along with the Office for Disability Issues want to know what you think about six proposed changes that will modernise the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) video interpreting and relay services.

Video interpreting and relay services help Deaf,
deafblind, hearing-impaired, and speech-impaired New Zealanders to communicate with hearing people over the phone.

Individual relay services include: mobile text relay, internet relay, CapTel (captioned telephones), and services that use teletypewriters (TTYs).

For more information about the proposed changes and how to have your say, please visit

Information is available in NZSL and English.

Feedback is open until 9am, Monday 15 April 2019.

NZSL video interpreting and relay services  Have your say on proposed changes to the NZSL video interpreting and relay services at

Community Connects

You only have a few more days to get your application in for the next round of the Community Connects grants.

The Community Connects grants help fund projects that promote the inclusion and contribution of older people in community life, and support their community to prepare for an ageing population.

The fund makes one-off grants up to $15,000 as part of an annual budget of $100,000.

The current round is open with applications closing on April 7.

For more information including guidelines and the application form, go to the SuperSeniors website.

SuperGold Card special offers

Check out the latest special offers for our super seniors through the SuperSeniors website.

SuperGold New Zealand Government Office for Seniors