GreyPower is a voluntary organization founded in February 1986, some 25 years ago, by a group of angry Superannuitants protesting against the imposition of the surcharge on New Zealand Superannuation.

It first started in Auckland (as the Auckland Superannuitants Association) and was formed at meetings where people were very vocal in their protest and anger. This attracted a media presence.

At that time there was a media campaign against the current Government, so the meetings were well publicized which meant the movement quickly spread and further Associations were formed in other centres. This was instrumental in forming the Grey Power New Zealand Federation which, through the Board, is the Grey Power controlling body of some 76 Associations throughout the country, with up to 90,000 financial members.

The Board consists of a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and seven board members. Zone Representatives are elected by their associations in their Zones, New Zealand is geographically divided into seven zones. The smallest Zone having five associations and the largest having twenty.

The Federation head office in Papakura, Auckland is staffed by 3 part-time employees. The main function of the office is to maintain a central database of members, provide contact points, attend to board administration matters, organize any necessary travel arrangements/board meetings, and to provide all necessary material to the Associations.

Although the original reason for forming the movement was the surcharge on New Zealand Superannuation, while this was being vigorously pursued, activity was also taking place in the areas of health, electricity, human rights, publicity, social services, local bodies and law, order and justice. These areas of importance are allotted to Board members as Portfolios. Their responsibility is to chair a sub-committee with the mission of progressing the aims and objectives of Grey Power. Details of the portfolio holders and the various associations can be accessed on this web site.

Membership enrolments are taken by the local Associations, many of which offer members a discount book for local purchases and have monthly meetings with guest speakers. Most Associations also have a three monthly newsletter outlining items of interest. Plus every three months the Federation provides to each Household, a 24/28 page tabloid type magazine.

Our funding is by capitation fee, paid by our Associations from members’ subscriptions.

Grey Power as a whole is an advocacy group, with various board members spending approximately a week every two months in Wellington talking to the people that have the power to make the changes.

One of our main concerns is the level of superannuation. For some, it is difficult to have a fulfilling life on the current level of payment.

Further concerns are with the health system and the ever-escalating cost of electricity. From a poll of our members, we determined that the cost of electricity was their major concern, as it is monthly and seems to be more expensive each time. With a fixed income such as New Zealand’s Superannuation, when prices for energy (electricity and petrol) escalate, then something else has to be forgone; sometimes food, clothing or worst of all, adequate heating in the colder regions during winter.

In the area of health there are three problem areas that affect the elderly; Failing sight caused by cataracts; onset of diminution in hearing and the high cost of hearing aids; lack of mobility due to deterioration of hip, knee and ankle joints. Sight and mobility can be attended to by elective surgery but, sadly, this is just not available to most and certainly not within the much-vaunted six-month waiting list period.

Most elderly with these problems are in GP care. They spend their time on the phantom waiting list, shuffling between their GP and a specialist, until the condition deteriorates sufficiently to attain the necessary points to qualify for the waiting list. However, most do not attain this level as the point system continually changes. In other words, some just live in pain, never receiving treatment.

While we are active in all the other areas mentioned above, health and electricity are currently a main concern. Neither of the main parties are particularly concerned about the “end” of our gains. The restoration of the lower level of superannuation payment band has come from either Coalition arrangements or Supply and Confidence agreements, but we continue to meet with and lobby politicians who have the power to determine our future living standards.

GreyPower New Zealand Federation