10 September 2012

British needed in Christchurch for rebuild operation

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As the city of Christchurch prepares to begin its rebuild operation in earnest, Immigration New Zealand has reported that British workers have arrived in force to help out, but more are needed.

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Christchurch is in need of skilled workers to help with the rebuild operation next year.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake which struck the Canterbury region in February 2011 left 185 people dead and devastated the city of Christchurch. The recovery process of excavating and checking for structural damage began almost immediately, but the rebuild is still yet to begin.

With the rebuild expected to get underway early next year, the population of what was New Zealand's second largest city is in need of skilled labour, and British workers have answered the call.

INZ figures show that British workers account for almost 50% of all New Zealand visa grants to foreign workers entering the country to assist with the rebuild operation. Alongside the hundreds of skilled workers in the country on a full visa, New Zealand also issued almost 12,000 working holiday visas to young British and Irish people last year and many of them are also predicted to contribute to the rebuilding.

Alex Bouma, chairman of the Canterbury Employment and Skills Board, says Britain's strong and historic ties to New Zealand were a great benefit during times of need.

"We've got really good cultural synergies," said Mr Bouma.

"There’s an excellent, highly skilled workforce that we can tap into. They can come in, do some work, add some scale and then leave again."

Some of the occupations reportedly most in demand include quantity surveyors, engineers and construction jobs such as carpenters, joiners and painters.

"We're inevitably going to have to look offshore. There just simply aren't enough arms and legs in New Zealand with that sort of skill," said Mr Bouma.

"Quantity surveyors is the key one. There's only so many of them and you need them for every single project."


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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