Christchurch earthquake rebuild attracts surge in expat workers

Published:  24 Apr at 6 PM
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The rebuild of New Zealand’s South Island city of Christchurch after the massive earthquake two years ago is now attracting increasing numbers of expat workers keen to be part of the effort.

Figures recently issued by Statistics New Zealand show a marked increase in arrivals over the past year to March 31, a dramatic reversal from the previous year, in which 3,100 more people left than arrived. The majority of the new arrivals are migrant workers taking jobs in the rebuilding of the city.

The welcome trend is gathering momentum as the rebuilt ratchets up a notch, with the high number of Irish and British workers arriving on temporary permits now being matched by construction workers from the Philippines. According to Lana Hart from the local Chamber of Commerce, Filipinos are now the strongest contingent as regards immigration, although the trend is limited to the Christchurch area only.

Most, she added are arriving on two-year work visas and are not planning to bring their families with them. Construction, including plastering and painting, is their forte, she said, all skills which are in short supply within the local workforce.

Repair work is pushing ahead, with Canterbury-based recruitment firms setting up second offices to deal with demand and employers competing for skilled labour. As a result, wages are edging upwards, influenced by competition for skilled workers from Auckland with its higher wage structure and cost of living.
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