KiwiSaver withdrawal involving Australian superannuation

Dean spent three years working in Australia, and during this time contributed to an Australian workplace superannuation fund. When he returned to New Zealand, he arranged for these funds to be transferred into the KiwiSaver scheme he joined with his bank.
October 2019

A year after becoming a KiwiSaver member, Dean decided to buy a property and wanted to use funds from KiwiSaver as a deposit towards purchasing his first home.  He had three discussions with the bank about obtaining a home loan and making a KiwiSaver withdrawal.  Dean says the bank told him that the funds transferred from Australia into his KiwiSaver could be withdrawn for a first home purchase.  He said that based on this advice, he spent money obtaining legal advice, valuations and building reports for properties he was interested in buying. 

When Dean reached the point that he was about to buy a property, he found he was not eligible to withdraw the KiwiSaver funds transferred from his Australian workplace superannuation fund.  This meant he had insufficient funds for a deposit. 

Dean complained that, on the basis of the incorrect advice from the bank, he had incurred costs. He wanted compensation for the time, cost and inconvenience entailed in this false start.

Our investigation

Under the KiwiSaver Act 2006, a first home withdrawal cannot be made until the person has been a member for three years.  Further, the Act provides that a member is not able withdraw funds transferred from an Australian scheme to buy a first home. 

It appears that Dean mistakenly believed he met the three year KiwiSaver membership requirement for a first home withdrawal because of the time he had been a member of an Australian complying superannuation scheme. 

We listened to the three calls that Dean had with the bank staff.  The conversations were of a general nature and, in one call, the bank explained that a KiwiSaver member had to be a member for three years before they could make a first home withdrawal.  There was no discussion about funds transferred from Australia. 

While Dean believed the bank was deliberately withholding the crucial call, we did not consider this was likely.  The calls with the bank accorded with Dean’s recollection of his interactions with the bank, and there did not appear to be a missing call. 

 We noted that Dean had obtained information about KiwiSaver withdrawals from other sources and perhaps some confusion had arisen from those conversations. 


We considered there was insufficient evidence to establish that the bank had given Dean incorrect advice, and we could not therefore uphold the complaint.

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