Transition to retirement

The median age of New Zealanders increased from 35.9 years in 2006 to 38 years in 2013 and 37.4 years in 2018. Older adults will make up an increasingly larger proportion of the population over the next 20 to 30 years. Stats NZ estimates that by 2028, the number of New Zealanders aged 65 years or older is likely to hit one million. While reaching the magic 65 means retirement for many, one in four people aged 65-plus is still in paid employment and an estimated 40 per cent of people aged 65 and over have virtually no other income besides NZ Super. Another 20 per cent have only a little more. For those who have left the workforce entirely, the novelty of finding time on their hands can be a challenge. We asked two retirees for their views on retirement and how they made the transition …

Wendy Hawking ONZM

Former head of the Rodney Health Charitable Trust Wendy Hawking says it would have been too much of a shock to have gone from working 60 hours a week to nothing, so she chose to retire gradually. In fact, at 80, she still does 20 hours a week for the health trust helping to manage its rental properties, which fund its charitable work.

When she first retired, she got involved with the fundraising campaign for hospice’s Tui House in Warkworth and other charitable causes.

Retirement is about having time

“When you’re working fulltime, you have to fit community work and family life around your working life,” she says. “When you retire, you have the time to choose what you spend your time doing. I was especially looking forward to having more time with grandchildren and I’m now able to spend time with the people I want to be with.”

Wendy says the luxury of having time is what she loves most about retirement.

“My advice for retirement is to make sure you have goals and things to fill your day. If you’re not busy, you’ll become a boring old fart that no one wants to visit. You need to be able to discuss more than your bowel movements with your children and grandchildren!”

She says that providing you have your health, retirement is fun.

“I’ve also learned how to live very simply. I’m currently living in a one-roomed cottage on a farm, with the kitchen, living room and bedroom all in one room. I have a very good veggie garden, a lovely German Shepherd pup called Bella and a simple wardrobe. And next week I’m off on a road trip, with Bella, to Coromandel.

“Enjoying retirement is all about your attitude.”

Dave Johnson

Dave was a professional photographer on the North Shore before retiring about 12 years ago. He and his wife Anne moved north to Snells Beach “to escape the busy city life”.

“We were looking for somewhere quieter where we could relax and slow down,” Dave says. “Snells Beach was perfect because we were still close enough to visit family in Auckland, but away from hustle and bustle.

It’s easy to become isolated

“When I thought about retirement before I retired, I did worry a little about getting bored. But by the time it came time to retire, I was ready.

“Anne and I spent the first five years catching up on all the things we’d never had time for before. We bought a caravan and I don’t think there are many places in NZ we didn’t visit. We also did some overseas trips including our first cruise.

“We were actually pretty busy.”

As time went by, Dave says he started to find things to do. He had put his cameras away when he retired, but then he started taking photos again “for fun”.

He says joining the Men’s Shed in Warkworth was a good decision.

“It put me in touch with a group of guys who had compatible interests. I think this is particularly important for men because often our social life is closely intertwined with our working life so when work stops, it is easy to become isolated. The Men’s Shed does a great job of filling that social gap.”

Dave encourages people coming up to retirement not to look at it with trepidation.

“See it as an opportunity to do things you’ve not had time for before. Find things to do that you enjoy and be open to trying new things.”