The Kiwi Concerns Report 2023

As we prepare to hit the voting polls in October, a sense of uncertainty and concern seems to be resonating across Aotearoa, according to our latest research.

The Kiwi Concerns Report 2023, commissioned by OneChoice in partnership with research group CoreData, surveyed over 1,000 Kiwis aged 18 and older about their attitudes towards the state of the country and their top concerns.

As we take a closer look at our collective worries about the state of our nation, the sentiment among us Kiwis has been measured at an average index score of 68.1 out of 100. This score demonstrates a moderate level of concern, nearly edging toward ‘very concerned’, which registers at an index score of 75. This comes as no surprise, with most of us (65%) admitting to grappling with heightened stress and anxiety due to the uncertainties and challenges faced in the past year.

As the election draws near, focal points such as health and wellbeing, finances, work, and education are front of mind. But these issues resonate differently across different age groups. While Gen Z (32%) and Gen Y (26%) rank finances as their biggest overall concern, Gen X (24%) and Baby Boomers (22%) place health and wellbeing at the forefront.

Additionally, despite most of us (86%) feeling the current government has a clear vision for New Zealand’s future and practical strategies to realise it, many (76%) are not convinced that our voices are being heard by the government.

Kiwi Concerns Report 2023 Infographic 1
Kiwi Concerns Report 2023 Infographic 2

Rising living costs are taking a toll on Kiwis

The rising cost of living is an issue weighing heavily on our minds, topping the list of greatest financial concerns with an average index score of 75.8 out 100. This score comes as no surprise, with more than three-quarters of us expressing we are extremely or very concerned about the rising cost of living (76%).

Our younger generations seem to bear the brunt of this economic pressure, with nearly a third of Gen Z (32%) and Gen Y (26%) ranking finances as their greatest overall concern. Other worries include wage growth not aligning with rising living costs (68% extremely or very concerned) and living paycheck to paycheck (62% extremely or very concerned).

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of us are extremely or very concerned about putting enough money aside for retirement (63%) and being unable to cover emergencies or unexpected costs (63%).

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The fading Kiwi Dream

The once idolised ‘Kiwi Dream’ of owning a home is also fading away. Over 6 in 10 Kiwis actively looking to buy a home feel like they are losing hope they will ever be able to buy a home (61%), and a staggering 92% of renters are very or somewhat worried about their ability to afford to buy a home given the property prices in New Zealand.

For those of us who believe there are challenges in the Kiwi property market, over 8 in 10 are very or extremely concerned about the biggest challenges (81%). The biggest worries stem from rising interest rates (54%), the rising cost of building (49%), and the lack of affordable housing (44%).

Active home buyers are echoing a similar sentiment, with nearly three-quarters (74%) of active home buyers feeling largely locked out of the property market. Additionally, close to nine in ten (89%) find themselves putting their homeownership dreams on hold due to affordability issues.

Unfortunately, homeowners are not exempt from financial worries. In fact, more than 5 in 6 (85%) of us currently paying off a mortgage feel a bit overwhelmed with debt, and close to nine in ten (89%) said paying off the mortgage feels like a burden that is limiting their lifestyle. These struggles are affecting most homeowners who are yet to pay off their mortgage, with close to 9 in 10 (87%) feeling stressed and anxious about their repayments.

And it's not just first home buyers and homeowners feeling the pressure. Rental availability and affordability are also significant concerns for most of us, with over 6 in 10 Kiwis being extremely or very concerned (63%). Strikingly, close to nine in ten Kiwis currently renting (87%) believe our rental prices are overpriced these days.

We also expressed concerns around the government’s management of the New Zealand economy. Our collective sentiment on the matter is highlighted by the average index score of 72.2 out of 100, approaching a very high level of concern. Close to two-thirds of us (64%) are deeply concerned about a major economic recession and market downturn, this could indicate we are hoping for some relief and reassurance about the future of our economy as the election nears.

Doubts linger over healthcare system

Health concerns are also one of our biggest worries. In fact, health and wellbeing concerns topped the list of our greatest overall concerns, with an index score of 6.4 out of 10. As the voting season approaches, it seems our frustrations loom over the state of the public health system. More than three-quarters (76%) of us doubt the Te Whatu Ora health authority’s ability to ensure the quality of healthcare.

The increasing unaffordability of healthcare also has a part to play, with nearly half of us voicing concerns about the cost of allied health services (47%) and GP appointments (46%), followed by unexpected costs (45%), medical specialists (42%) and dentists (42%). These concerns have prompted nearly all of us (93%) to cut back our spending on health-related products and services.

Amid debates about the effectiveness of the current public health system, we also expressed doubts about the adequacy of our nation’s healthcare infrastructure to support services such as hospitals and aged care centers, with over 6 in 10 extremely or very concerned about this topic (63%). Additionally, a similar proportion of us are troubled by health inequities within the country (61%).

Kiwi Concerns Report 2023 Infographic 3

Quality of education and job opportunities leave Kiwis wanting more

Education and career opportunities are central to our hopes for a brighter future. It's disheartening to see that more than two-thirds of us (69%) expressed extreme or high levels of concern about the quality of education in New Zealand. Furthermore, over half of us (56%) expressed they were extremely or very frustrated by the prospect of teachers leaving, leading to crowded classrooms and less individual attention.

But it's not just education that’s raising concerns; the stability of the job market and our future career prospects are also in the spotlight. In fact, two-thirds (66%) of us are concerned about high unemployment rates and the lack of job opportunities.

The “brain drain” of skilled Kiwi professionals moving to other countries also looms over the nation’s aspirations, with most of us (62%) feeling extremely or very concerned by this. Interestingly, more than half of Kiwis (53%) feel extremely or very frustrated by their unfulfilling work or lack of promotion opportunities, which could be contributing to this issue, demonstrating the need to address domestic career diversification.

Priorities at the ballot box

Given our high level of concern across a variety of topics, the upcoming election will likely see cost of living, healthcare, education, and employment take centre stage as critical issues that will influence votes.

Whether you're a true-blue Kiwi or a new addition to our beautiful country, let’s keep the conversation going so we can work towards a better future for our whānau and community. Discover more findings and insights in the Kiwi Concerns Index 2023.