Christchurch was left devastated by the earthquake which killed 185 people in February 2011.
18 June 2012
New Zealand visa problems for earthquake rebuilders
Foreign nationals who have travelled to Christchurch to assist with the cleanup operation of the 2011 earthquake have complained of difficulty in achieving a New Zealand visa.
As the earthquake which razed large parts of the city caused many residents to leave and the requirement of a large recovery operation, many foreign nationals have travelled to the city to take advantage of the job opportunities on offer and assist with the cleanup. However, many have complained that their difficult in securing the necessary New Zealand visa is hindering the operation.
Aaron Varley, a British citizen and structural engineer, said he was told he would secure a visa easily due to his qualifications while an American citizen said he and his family wanted to remain in Christchurch but could not secure a visa.
New Zealand immigration officials claim neither of the men had satisfactory employment offers to meet visa requirements stipulated on the Department of Labour's skills shortage list.
Labour MP Lianne Dalziel called last week for Christchurch to be exempted from typical visa requirements in order to expedite the city's recovery but the Earthquake Commission, the government agency in charge of the cleanup, says New Zealand workers will be considered for positions before overseas labour.
"We've made it very clear we want to exhaust all possible avenues within New Zealand," said David Peterson, general manager of Fletcher EQR, contracted to the Earthquake Commission.
"We've looked to recruit from Canterbury specifically initially, then wide South Island, then wider New Zealand."
The Earthquake Commission has currently accredited almost 14,000 workers to assist with the cleanup yet just 312 visas have been granted.
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.