From the CEO Big plans ahead for me!

Oct 7, 2019

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

I know you are supposed to be discreet about your age but it’s a bit late for that now as I move closer towards that gold card than most others around me in the workplace. As a child it seemed to take forever for my birthday to roll around each year, knowing that a present would arrive from my grandmother in the form of a card with 20 cents inside the envelope. Of course once this landed in my lap, I was straight down to the corner dairy to buy a bag of lollies. This event marked another year older.

These days I’m in no hurry for that annual event but as I celebrated my birthday recently, for the first time I found myself visiting the Work and Income website to look up the superannuation. Being an obsessive Virgo planning is in my frontal lobe and as I move closer towards that age I’m thinking about all of the other changes that will come with it. If you know me, I’m always looking at the bright side of life and thinking about retirement is no different. It is actually quite exciting and I am already drawing up a big list of events, activities and small business hobbies that I want to launch into. Should I downsize to one of those cool tiny homes on a trailer so I can have a change of scenery each year? It would certainly reduce my power bill. Or should I pack up and move to the Gold Coast with all-year sun and beach walking galore? Wherever I land I need to think about how I will stretch my pension and make it last the week. I am grateful that I did some earlier planning and I can supplement it with my Whai Rawa and KiwiSaver. Of course there will be no need for that flash corporate wardrobe and in fact there would be no room for anything – that’s why I’m making the most of it now. Sounds quite fanciful but if I’m honest I know there are challenging realities for our fast-aging population. The basics of health become a number one priority – good nutrition, exercise, stimulating your brain beyond Sudoku, social engagement and connectivity – are all essential, along with laughter. Who wants to be old and grumpy as well – not me!

Recently I was privileged to travel with our local kaumātua down to Arowhenua to farewell a beautiful wahine who led an extraordinary life full of manaakitanga. What a fun trip; hearing the stories from way back in the “old days”, was a real life expression of community connectivity. There is a unique richness that we have amongst us that is woven by whakapapa and whānau – and we love a good laugh. The marae is our anchor or the centre of village life. For others it may be replicated at the retirement village, the RSA or other community organisations. While this may sound “fluffy”, planning my years ahead is actually serious business. Whether I end up in a tiny house or on the Gold Coast, I am clear that I want to be surrounded by positive energy, laughter and people who care for one another. Take some time to think about your own life plan – the earlier you prepare the better.