Connecting New Zealand

New cyclone visa category provides relief from ‘crisis mode’

24 Feb 2023

A new fast-tracked visa category to help with recovery efforts following Cyclone Gabrielle will enable the country’s civil construction companies to ramp up their efforts in the response and recovery following the massive impact of Cyclone Gabrielle across the North Island.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Alan Pollard welcomed the changes, saying the new category was flexible and streamlined enough for the industry to recruit workers from overseas to work on the cyclone cleanup response, without the significant barriers that have prevented the industry from overcoming its critical shortage of workers.

“This visa category will enable the civil construction industry to get the people it needs, without the burdens imposed by excessive cost, delay and red tape. It’s what our members need to be able to address the challenges posed by the cyclone.”

Mr Pollard said while six months validity after issue was not a long time for the visa to be granted, he hoped the visa would be streamlined to connect in with other opportunities for migrants to support the country’s massive recovery build.

He said the country’s shortage of civil construction workers had been well-documented as the industry’s number one challenge for several years, and despite the industry’s efforts to create good training and workforce intake programmes, the inability to bring in migrant workers where needed had significantly impacted projects and maintenance efforts.

While businesses had put a lot of energy into identifying talent and developing people within New Zealand, they had at the same time been severely restricted by closed borders, a small pool of prospective workers and few infrastructure construction training opportunities, he said.

“It’s clear from the scale of this disaster that we have a lot of work to do. Civil construction companies are working hard to clean up debris and silt, as well as repair roads, public spaces and private properties. But they also need to look after their people, who can only work in ‘crisis mode’ for so long. New overseas workers will help spread the load.”

Good mental health support was also needed to prevent fatigue and burnout amongst those working to repair the damage wreaked by the cyclone, and encouraged companies to explore new crisis resources produced by MATES in Construction NZ.

The next step would be a co-ordinated international campaign to recruit top international talent that leveraged NZ’s global status and international networks, Mr Pollard said.

He also called on Kiwis to take up the challenge and contribute to cyclone response and recovery ‘however they can’, with huge opportunity for workers in the cleanup and recovery, in addition to the construction and maintenance of NZ’s transport and water networks.

Kiwis considering work in civil infrastructure construction could visit for more information on what was involved, and support to understand where they could best contribute. 




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