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New Zealand: Social Security and Etiquette

The economy of New Zealand is characterized by a high level of economic freedom and low corruption rates. The country’s beauty and laidback lifestyle are a big plus as well. We take a look at New Zealand’s social security and business etiquette, as well as the qualifications needed to work here.
Auckland, located on the northern island, is the biggest urban center in New Zealand.

How Does the Social Security System Work?

New Zealand has a comprehensive social security system which is largely non-contributory. Neither employees nor employers make official contributions to social security funds — they are financed solely by taxes.

Benefits and disability insurance are available to all residents, regardless of their employment history. The only exception remains the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme. All employees and self-employed residents have to contribute to the ACC, which compensates people in the event of work-related accidents.

Superannuation and Social Security

Social security benefits are distributed not only according to the eligibility criteria,  they also have strict residential requirements. Superannuation, New Zealand’s state pension, is paid to citizens and permanent residents aged 65 and over who have lived in the country for a minimum of ten years (five of which have to be spent in New Zealand after the age of 50).

Eligibility for unemployment benefits is limited to citizens and permanent residents who have been residing in New Zealand for at least two years. However, there are some mutual agreements with countries such as Canada, Denmark, and the UK. They allow nationals from these countries to apply for social security benefits as soon as they take up permanent residence. If you want to find out more about the social security agreements between New Zealand and your home country, check New Zealand’s Work and Income site.

A Tradition of Hospitality

Despite the country’s geographical remoteness, New Zealanders have a reputation for being very open-minded and friendly. The tradition of welcoming visitors runs deep in New Zealand, and the Māori even have a special word for it — Manaakitanga.

In daily life, people are often very casual, and usually move to a first-name basis quickly. A noteworthy difference from many other Western countries is the fact that your well-intended tip at a restaurant or hotel might be rejected as tipping is not very common in New Zealand.

One thing all expats in New Zealand should remember when talking to locals is that they should avoid comparing New Zealand to Australia too much.  They are two distinct countries and New Zealanders appreciate it if you recognize them as such.

Kiwi-Style Business

Although in everyday life the dress code is fairly casual, dressing conservatively is appropriate in the business world. In New Zealand, punctuality is very important, and appointments should always be made well in advance. While invitations to dinner are usually reserved for friends, business lunches are a popular way of building your network or continuing business-related conversations on a more casual level.

If you’re negotiating with a local, don’t be in a hurry. New Zealand doesn’t have a bargaining culture and they will take their time during this process. They appreciate detailed information and all terms and conditions should be clearly stated. Regarding the use of first names, it’s advised to follow the lead of your host if you’re not certain of how to address them.


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