Christchurch rebuild draws skilled workers from Ireland and the Philippines

Published:  25 Jul at 6 PM
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The long-awaited rebuild of Christchurch city centre following the two devastating earthquakes is ramping up, thanks to the help of migrant workers.

The South Island city of Christchurch is welcoming 22 skilled migrants every day of the year, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand. In June, 564 overseas workers arrived in the city, the highest migrant total for 23 years.

Most arrived to work on the reconstruction of the city and its infrastructure, with the majority coming from the Philippines, followed by a good number from Ireland. Mark Connolly arrived from the Emerald Isle just two weeks ago, and is already talking about extending his one-year stay.

He told reporters he’d not had much luck finding a permanent job in his home county of Derry, and was pleased when Canstaff recruited him to work in Christchurch as a bricklayer. It’s a new challenge, he said, but there’s lots of work.

He find Kiwis friendly and the lifestyle laid back, and may well be staying for as long as he can. Australian Aleisha Higgins lost her job on the Gold Coast last March, and came to Christchurch where she was offered six jobs within a week.

Immigration New Zealand support co-ordinator Lana Hart confirms migrant numbers are picking up fast, saying that it’s fascinating to watch more and more migrants coming in to work. Some, she says, are bringing their families, and others are arriving simply to help out with the rebuild.

According to Earthquake Recovery chief Warwick Isaacs, it’s not often people get a chance to rebuild a city, with many wanting just to be part of the process. Job opportunities in the construction trade, he said, are filling up fast as the project is unique and exciting.
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