PM says migrants needed for low-wage jobs such as fruit picking, cafe work because NZers can't or won't do the work, or live elsewhere; says employers cite drug and health problems for locals; migration 'adds value' to country

PM says migrants needed for low-wage jobs such as fruit picking, cafe work because NZers can't or won't do the work, or live elsewhere; says employers cite drug and health problems for locals; migration 'adds value' to country

By Bernard Hickey

Prime Minister John Key has defended the use of temporary migrants to fill relatively low-wage jobs, pointing out employers say they struggle to find locals to do the work because of health and drug issues, poor skills or because workers live in the wrong location.

The Government has faced multiple calls for a review of its migration settings in recent monthss as MBIE, Treasury, ANZ and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce have queried whether workers with the right skills are being granted work visas, and particularly questioning whether the extra supply of temporary workers may be repressing wage inflation. Finance Minister Bill English has also expressed concern over whether the migrants were displacing beneficiaries that the Government would prefer to see in work.

See a full list below of the Top 20 occupations for temporary work visas granted by Immigration New Zealand in the year to June 30, 2016 to see the scale and type of temporary migration. This also does not include the workers employed under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme in the horticulture and viticulture industries, which was increased to 9,500 workers in 2015/16 from 9,000 the previous year.

Key was challenged in this RNZ interview about whether high immigration was putting strains on resources, suppressing wages and substituting for New Zealanders wanting work. Statistics NZ reported last month that 342,000 New Zealanders saw themselves as under-utilised in the June quarter, either because they were unemployed or wanting more work.

Key was first asked asked why New Zealanders could not do these jobs.

"Either geographically, so they're a hairdresser in Queenstown and someone won't move there, or skills, people just lack the skills to do it," he said.

He was then asked whether the migrants were taking work off unemployed New Zealanders, particularly for hairdressers, truck drivers and bakers.

Key initially said relatively few people were coming in low skills areas such as those.

"They're usually at the margins. Very small amounts of people have come in under that category," he said.

Asked about migrants working in cafes, he said cafes often had large payrolls of 20 to 30 people.

"The bulk of them are not solely are in those categories," he said.

RSE scheme

He then referred to the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

"We bring in people to pick fruit under the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, and they come from the islands, and they do a fabulous job. And the government has been saying 'well okay, there are some unemployed people who live in the Hawke's Bay, and so why can't we get them to pick fruit', and we have been trialling a domestic RSE scheme," Key said.

"But go and ask the employers, and they will say some of these people won't pass a drug test, some of these people won't turn up for work, some of these people will claim they have health issues later on. So it's not to say there aren't great people who transition from Work and Income to work, they do, but it's equally true that they're also living in the wrong place, or they just can't muster what is required to actually work," he said.

'Migrants add a lot of value'

Key said higher migration did add pressure to infrastructure and to costs for education and health, but also added to economic growth.

"Migrants usually add quite a lot of value to our country. Not just in terms of culturally, but just generally they add a lot to the overall economic wealth of the country, so net on net they're positive," he said.

"There's no question a bigger population adds some pressure on the system, but it can also have a huge impact on helping alleviate that. If you're bringing in people who are working in the construction sector, they're part of the solution, not part of the problem."

The highest ranked temporary visa category in construction was carpenter at number 6. It is the only construction skill listed in the Top 20. See more below.

China may not be excluded from any stamp duty

Elswhere, Key was asked if the Government had ruled out a Vancouver-style land tax or stamp duty on foreign buyers. Key suggested in July and October last year a stamp duty on foreign buyers could be introduced.

Key said the best data he had showed just 1% of net sales were to foreign buyers,

"It's not the big driving factor. Broadly speaking, if you look at it, at the moment, if an Asian buyer turns up to an auction on the North Shore of Auckland, I'd strongly suggest they live in New Zealand. They may be second or third generation. They may be first generation," he said.

"We're not working on any tax on foreign buyers. We always look at these things," he said.

"But the one thing I will say to you is everybody's laws are a bit different and under some of our FTAs you might be able to do it, but you might have to, depending on the structure of the tax, exclude for instance China, because of the FTA that was signed with China."

Here are the top 20 occupations for work visas in the year to June 30, 2016 year (with numbers in brackets):

  1. Tour Guide (6,248)
  2. Chef (4,218)
  3. Dairy Cattle Farmer (2,253)
  4. Retail Manager (General) (2,369)
  5. Cafe or restaurant manager (2,045)
  6. Carpenter (1,507)
  7. Retail Supervisor (1,693)
  8. Student (1,157)
  9. Aged or disabled carer (1,005)
  10. Deck hand (895)
  11. Dairy Cattle Farm worker (876)
  12. Software engineer (716)
  13. University Lecturer (680)
  14. Cook (543)
  15. Registered Nurse (aged care) (509)
  16. ICT Support Technicians (494)
  17. Developer Programmer (489)
  18. Entertainer or Variety artist (465)
  19. Office Manager (456)
  20. Waiter (452)

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


So if..."employers say they struggle to find locals to do the work because of health and drug issues, poor skills or because workers live in the wrong location"... What does that say about this and previous government policies?


That they are too soft on bludgers. Why work when the government provides you with a state house and spending money which increases as the number of children you have (but don't care for) increases.

Hostels for all kiwis who don't work and need financial support. That will soon make them pull finger.

Yes blame the victims and starve their children, that will work Just like it hasn't worked for the last 30 years.

Since when has the government blamed 'victims' and starved their children? Last I heard, for the past 30 years you were given a state house and top-ups based on the number of children you had. Clearly that hasn't been working.

John Key and Paula Bennett are walking proof that the old system worked well.
Crying shame they dismantled it after they enjoyed its benefits

Hostels eh? I believe the word you were actually looking for was "workhouse"


When I worked on a farm in hastings there were a group of Maori who picked asparagus. They had an older woman in charge, so it was like tribal team work. People don't mind working in congenial situations. I once worked for emergency drivers and it was horrible, because you were only there for a day no body felt they had to make an effort so you were a perpetual nobody. These smart arse employers (and national Party) who look at these issues ought to know motivators other than money (job satisfaction) and the fact that incomes are piddling relative to house prices (something the Savings Working Group blamed successive governments for). Motivation is a function of the value of the goal and probability of achieving it I suspect an element of despair on behalf of our workforce (whereas migrants have nowhere to go but up).

Just for the exercise what would it be like if New Zealanders were going from present conditions to something better through migration as reflected by (say) Indians or Filipinos coming to NZ?


Yeah, somehow I doubt thats actually totally true. It's more a case i think of locals expecting (and rightly so) a living wage whereas poorly skilled migrants now filling those positions ARE willing too work for minimum, to remove themselves from the 2nd/3rd world environment many come from.

Ive seen where a great deal of these new migrants are going here in Nelson for example. It's the supermarkets chains and the large chain fast food outlets. Most appear to be coming from India or Pakistan

It is not necessary to mention the countries.


Yes it is., and I WILL say what I observe as I see fit. Why you frightened to say? Wouldn't matter if they appeared to be from the US or Canada....I will still say it. Are you trying to shut down debate using the 'don't mention the race/culture' card?

Well said Justice. If the ignorant commentators have actually lived with local people in the homes, in third world countries ,they would be telling that differently. I have, extensively, most recently , Philippines. In Philippines rural towns and cities, it is quite common to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for $7 nz a DAY, (6000 Philippines peso a month) if very basic tin shed/bamboo shed accomodation and $2day meal valueis included.) I personally have met and seen it. Basic wage in nz dollars savable per month is 700 to 1500% higher. These immigrants are rich, when returning home with even $50000 nzd saved(1.5 million peso =3 decent basic rural homes on useful sized lot) . So they will do anything, anywhere, to get it. Key is a liar.Face it. It drives down the bottom end of wages here, just as it does in poor American towns,just nkrth of the mexican border, where also i have lived for extended periods. Anyone like to work in the New Mexico heat for 12 hours a day as a day labourer for net $70? Join the queses,they wait all day for a days work in the fields and happy to.

Completely true jimmyH. Its so utterly obvious as well. If you come from a developing country minimum wage in NZ is huge. You are more than happy having no life for a few years so you can take the money back to your country of birth having massively improved your lot while NZers remain here having to scrape by on meagre salaries paying off huge mortgages and increading costs of living. John Key knows this of course but he doesnt care

And the sad thing is that we now regularly hear of cases where their own kind are exploiting them here just as they do in their own country.
The 'sponsors' who are really selling these positions are corrupt and exploitative.
Their own residency and even citizenship should be able to be revoked, null and totally void as part of their punishment. (Now there's an old-fashioned word, even an old-fashioned concept, silly me).


There is absolutely no reason for temporary job fillers to qualify for permanent residency, let alone being then able to bring in close family, remote family or potential spouses.
And now on a semi related note....
As an example of how lax the immigration has been the reports now tell us that many parents brought in under family reunification have now been abandoned by their now overseas domiciled kids. One would have to ask whether these same victims have been also had their lifetime savings scammed to meet the family expenses leaving them as an accommodation and health burden on the state.
You reap what you sow.

Got a link to those numbers? I imagine thousands of immigrant parents are sucking on the super tit while the kids are have gone to Australia.

Whenever there is an exploitable gap in the rules, it will be exploited - guaranteed


because NZers can't or won't do the work, or live elsewhere

he didn't finish......... for that level of pay

... nzers wont do the work for that level of pay.... ( the dynamic of supply/demand and price )

I'm guessing that near the minimum wage level attracting good staff is not so easy


Sorry that is plain LAZINESS imo. You make sure you are in work first THEN try and find a better paid job.

Sitting on your backside waiting for a well paid job to come along doesn't wash.

Much easier to get a job whilst in employment rather than unemployed.


"Much easier to get a job whilst in employment rather than unemployed."

Actually I always find it the other way around. A lot easier to get work if you can start immediately rather than wait 4-8 weeks while you give notice.

You have obviously also never encountered going for a minimum wage job and been knocked back with the whole "too experienced" "too qualified" etc... because you have a degree.

Can't agree more on being rejected for 'too experienced' and 'over qualified'. They will never tell you that you are too old and can't mingle with the young teams. I'm in my early 40's and was unemployed for 2 years in 2014 and 2015. Over 90% of my job applications were rejected for the above reasons. I got my current job because I finally removed both my bachelor and master degrees from my CV. I have learned that it's better under-employed than unemployed. If this has happened to me, I wouldn't be surprised that it is also happening to others in similar situation.


You got it. And I don't blame them, why would you work when you know damn well it's still a case of going backward economically anyways?

Youth need to start somewhere in the workforce yes. But we have a situation building where they see their OWN parents (both of them in some cases) struggling to survive and drawing on WFF! and they may have two decades under their own working belts.

Globalization of labour appears to be bringing about a life in NZ of just accepting working slavery or bare existence with little hope of anything above that. If we had living wages...there would be no need to return all the tax taken in the form of WFF for many of these people, or accommodation allowances and subsidies etc etc. The corporate world has now made welfare their own subsidy with government approval it would appear!
Not a great sense of nationhood developing


This response is typical of ŕour PM. Denial and Manipulation. Nothing new. Defenitely long hours and below minimmum wage rate - Kiwi willnot work.

"China may not be excluded from any stamp duty" says the headline and the text underneath says "might have to ... exclude for instance China, because of the FTA that was signed with China". I guess that may or not cover the actual situation at the end of the day.

[ comment deleted. email sent to commenter to explain why. Ed ]


"Key says China may be excluded from any stamp duty"

If you needed any more proof that JohnKey is owned by China...there it is.

Well , that's what happens when people put out an incomplete statement in the media!:
He said there (in so many words) that "China may be excluded from any stamp duty because of the FTA signed with them by :Helen: ( obviously meaning by the Labour Party)"


He is grasping at straws with that one..I'm sure they would fairly well know the can dos and can't dos of that agreement by now. If not, they are grossly incompetent.
NZs biggest trade agreement, and he says something as ambiguous as that?

Just taking a bit of an opportunity to sling a bit of mud, hoping that enough sticks.

the RNZ interview (this morning) on which this item is based has moved about but now seems to be resident at this link.'-work-ethic,-drug-use-pm

The Key words that BH quotes are in this version of the interview. And he says 'may be excluded because of the FTA signed with China'. Which leaves the usual question as to why the Prime Minister doesn't yet know after 8 years as to whether it may be excluded or may not be excluded by the FTA.

See above

exactly .... sling the mud .... and all the interviewers be it TV3, RNZ, you name it do the same use the same sling and ask half assed questions designed to either put words in the mouth of the official, or just generalize to magnify the issue so it will sound like a disaster ... and it is all "according to some", or "some may say", or some half cooked stat ...
No one has the guts to discuss details and the devil within - all we get is childish hit and run and repeating the same crap over and over ....
It is disgusting and reflects the how deep can some people go down the gutters to push a political agenda so blindly !!


“China may be excluded from any stamp duty” because of a FTA. So as signatories of the FTA we cannot buy land in China but they are allowed to buy land and be excluded from a stamp duty? Mmmm.

If you don't want a job that pays only minimum wage...don't have minimal skills. I have armed myself with valuable skills that employers require and therefore receive a decent salary. If for some reason my skills were no longer sort after and I had to move to the Hawkes Bay to pick fruit for minimum wage...I'd do it for sure! Some unfortunately do not have the same attitude. But hey, if the benefit pays the same if not more for people to sit around doing nothing...who can blame them right?!

Quite so, our welfare (western welfare state model generally) has a lot to answer for. Probably OK in societies with a very strong work ethic but even then will lead to social and economic collapse over time. If we are spoiling people then it needs sorting out.
Kiwis have shown they are keen to work and travel for some very unpleasant jobs- look at how many are employed in the absolute sh!t holes in the Aussie outback. I think Key is being highly offensive with these comments. You don't just write off your own people like that.

Ironic considering what you said is offensive with calling jobs in the Australian outback "absolute sh!t holes".

It makes little sense to work if you are worse off financially. I do know people that have been working with variable work and it does create a mess as WINZ can't cope with work that constantly changes (it still seems to the 70's with their IT solutions).

With the amount of paperwork and administration it's difficult for people to work and satisfy the WINZ requirements. So if you end up with less money, or slightly more money and extra administration it's difficult to see the point in doing low end work. If WINZ changed so they didn't put barriers in the way of people working we could get more people out there being productive. That would contrast the way WINZ grinds people down and demotivates them.

However change needs to start in our education system. Train self-motivated workers focused on self-employment. We don't need large numbers of employees that have no motivation to improve themselves. Note that I'm focusing on those that are employed as well.

The thing is though, unless that 'beneficiary' is female and has child/children they don't really get anything from WINZ to live off.
I don't know a single male making a living off WINZ these days. That may sound sexist...but that is my observation. Now,.... I could go further with this observation....


Key said higher migration did add pressure to infrastructure and to costs for education and health, but also added to economic growth.

Why then is it necessary for the State to keep cutting short term official interest rates to apparently stimulate economic growth, to stimulate CPI inflation?

Because National are exporting jobs.

Excellent rebuttal.
However, "the State" doesn't cut the OCR..

Is that right?

New Zealand central bank Governor Graeme Wheeler needs to get inflation back to target and some observers think he has “plenty of room” to cut interest rates, Finance Minister Bill English said. Read more

Jeez. Imagine if we were to all abide by BE's wisdom...

Point taken, however.

RSEs definitely play an important role. Unfortunately, too many people do not see this as work they want to do. They want to get the money and perks and not earn it. That creates a big hole that needs to be filled. Those people whinging these people take 'their' jobs, BS, those people work harder than you and get the job.


"Either geographically, so they're a hairdresser in Queenstown and someone won't move there, or skills, people just lack the skills to do it," he said.

That's right John, we won't move somewhere for a job that does not cover living costs.

We also can't get the skills when employers request skillsets that clearly don't exist.

Example of one job I saw recently that stated Entry level role, must have relevant degree and 7 years experience.

does he have idea how expensive it is to live in Queenstown , that's if you can find a place to rent.
to even attempt to move their on a hairdressers wage would be fantasy
that is a weak example and shows how out of touch JK is with relativity.

I think you'd be suprised at what a hairdresser can make.

no I would not and that is not my point, last time I was in queenstown a few months ago one eyebrow lifted at the way rent prices and house prices have skyrocketed since last year.
add to that it is already a lot more pricy for day to day living, petrol, food etc and as a hairdresser why would you move there compared to many many other nice places to live in NZ unless for lifestyle, family or opportunities.
its a poor example to use

BH : you have posted the wrong RNZ link up there, this is an interview with Mr McDermott deputy RBNZ not Mr. Key -- so a correction is on order.

I gather from the script in your article that you are referring to his interview on Newstalk ZB last friday:

or some other interview, will be good if you add it please


I used to work for a large engineering firm in Whangarei. The reason that migrants fill many of the factory floor positions now that were previously filled by kiwis is simply that the company can pay them less. This has been bad for customers, bad for families, and bad for Whangarei. I imagine this story is replicated in many companies across NZ.

Or simply that kiwis refuse to do drug tests. A company I worked for advertised for a factory floor workers. 300 applicants - 295 refused to do drug test or didn't show. Salary was advertised so the punters were happy with the pay.

Fair enough that they didn't submit drug tests. I wouldn't either out of principle.
This is one of the most repressive trends in the workforce we have seen for a long time - it is blue collar worker discrimination to the highest degree. How many white collar workers have the same requirement? I know I myself have never submitted a drug test, despite being employed/consulting at various workplaces with a screening policy in place.

Whilst I definitely don't support people being under the influence whilst performing work duties, their liberty outside of the workplace should not be eroded even further. The majority of people are failing these tests on the basis of actions made with no influence on their work life.

Absolutely agree, particularly with the cannabis. Traces remain long after any narcotic effect has disappeared and folk can lose their job on Monday for having a smoke on Friday. What is all that about.
A reaction/coordination/cognitive test would be far fairer for any drug or alcohol impairment issue including driving on the roads.


Post workplace accident, an employer is for the high-jump if drug tests show positive. Employers "should have known" and have the means to know to keep a workplace safe. I once ran a mid-sized US factory (a bit less than 100 people). We brought in drug testing to deal with some safety/judgement issues. After testing (to minimum Federal standards) those issues went away. What was interesting was that after a long education buildup (about 9 months), the only three people who failed the initial tests were visiting technicians from New Zealand. The Kiwis were the only ones to claim "it doesn't affect my judgment - I'm safe". We seem wilfully blind to the risks to workmates. Denial is a national curse now.

Good call. But I was told by an OSH guy one time that work place accidents double after 6 hours on the job, and double again after 8 hours. What are we going to do to legislate about that? Pretty good chance your lawyer is just a big a dope head as the factory worker.

I have no issue with testing people for being under the influence at the workplace. There should be zero tolerance for that.
The issue is that it transcends this to restricting what people can and cannot pursue in their private lives; something that employers should be indifferent to. Moreover it unfairly discriminates against classes of workers.
As you utilise the collective 'we', were each of y'all subject to the same screening process as the laborers?

No idea what others do or did. In our case everyone got tested on the same day. Me, management, office and in-the-field sales staff. (We ran 3 shifts, so one was 8 hours later.) Nobody but me knew when the testing was scheduled, no-one but me got the results. We announced "everyone on the payroll here passed".

We tested for all judgment-inhibiting substances, including alcohol. Of course, some matabolise quickly, others very slowly. All add to workplace safety risks, including confidence in others.

Those 3 who failed were privately advised by me. I did not tell anyone else, not their managers in NZ (my colleagues), or my boss. But I remember the whole exercise very well. More than a few employees sweated over the whole process in those 9 months, some having to face up to 'drugs' or the job. (And some were managers.) In the end, no one quit. A few admitted it was the event that made them confront their habit, and appreciated the circuit-breaker. The situation was pass or lose your job.

The workplace was safer. But there were other QA, productivity workplace benefits too.

Cannabis can be detected upto 4 weeks later. Thing is it stores in the fat cells, and there is a lot of fat in the brain apparently. What the effects are during the 4 weeks I have no knowledge of, but it can't be helpful.

Good work.
- Practices that not too many operations are keen to adhere to!

Fully agree there re the DC comment on wilfully ignoring the risk to others. In my work overseas I have always noticed in our safety meetings it is always the Kiwis who are chatting amongst themselves, ignoring the meeting completely. The disasters that have occurred in NZ recently come as no surprise to me - its the number 8 wire mentality downside I am afraid.

Discrimination is a different issue. I agree fair enough if they don't want to submit a drugs test. Perhaps using sophisticated, dangerous equipment isn't for them and they are better off giving the work to a overseas competitor/immigrants.

Low wages, suggested in the earlier comment, is a cop out. Vast majority of people start employment on low wages jobs - other factors, besides pay rates, make some kiwis work shy. High housing costs certainly don't help with employment flexibility either.

Maybe you are a stoner, or sympsthise with stoners. Being through 12 local employees,8 of which I had to let go, as they were often too drugged to work, turned up to work stoned, or hadnt slept for 2 days on a meth binge..yeah it matters, I wont let stoned workers operate chainsaws,or drive my trucks, out doors landscaping / gardening work. I guess there "partners " were getting enough on benefits, one had 11 kids, another had 7 in the kids, in the respective whanau.State houses at $70/week, Auckland.The best ones moved on to other things, even at $1000 week. Chinese man in his mid 20's , tried that work, but was useless, even after a 3 year landscaping degree here, and supposedly a professional public Gardner, ex-Beijing. Kept him in the team untill he was efficient, as he Didn't do drugs.

You prose makes you sound like a bit of a 'stoner', yourself..
Fair enough though; if they attend work impaired, there should be no tolerance for that. RE my original comments.

But how is it any of your concern as an employer if out of work an employee takes recreational drugs outside of work hours, with no impact to your business?
My original point was that how can we justify screening blue collar employees and prejudicing them for liberal choice, without performing the same testing on white collar workers?

In the words of Erdos, on abstaining from amphetamine use for a month; "..during my abstinence, mathematics has been set back by a month."

One rule for us. Another rule for them.
The true equality.

The drug testing is to check that they don't go to work impaired. Where it does have an impact on your business you have to test for drugs. I'll use your maths example next time I'm talking to OSH - I'm sure they will be very understanding. Testing the entire population for drugs or none of the population is not practical. For at risk work places it is not ideal for everybody so they take a lower paying job rather than submit to drug testing. In this case pay rate was not the over riding factor.

Weren't the bankers and traders who brought on the GFC known for their drugs and drinks and sex laden parties daily after work ? Remember the Wolves of the Wall Street and similar places in London, etc ?


Last week Chorus (Chaos?) were fumbling around trying to find excuses for their abysmal performance with faults and fibre installation. Of course the lack of skilled workers was blamed and the plan is to import more - Indians and Filipinos are targeted. Turns out they have no proper training programme to turn our school leavers into telecom technicians or even skilled labourers. Their contractors are mostly single guys in a white van so little or no chance to train an apprentice there.
They shouldn't even be allowed to just ignore our people and fill the place up with immigrants. How is this fair on our young folk.

they used to have a very skilled workforce, where did they all go .
that's right they tried to cut costs by making them contractors and a lot up and left for australia

They don't care about the local impact. They care about maximising efficiency, which is how they got there in the first place.

They don't care about the local impact. They care about maximising efficiencyshort term profit, which is how they got there in the first place.


This is one reason why I said "No, thanks" to the nice saleslady on the phone.......I can't bear the lottery of what the job standard would be like and the angst and hassle of getting the mess put right...
Their reputation has preceded them.

Kiwidave, Not only are Chorus not training young NZ'ers, they are robbing third world countries of their few educated trained people. They pay them minimum NZ wages and our government tops them up with WFF and accommodation supplement with the business profits leaving the country as they are an American company.
When Telecom was government owned they trained thousands of apprentices.

When I was at high school we used to regularly have P&T (later telecoms) and the local power board along recruiting school leavers for apprenticeships and even cadet scholarships as electrical engineers. Now they just import them from India or the Philippines. I don't know what qualifications they have or whether they are bonafide. I suspect that Chorus doesn't know either but having seen the state of Indian telecom installations and the work of their "technicians" can fully understand why the work getting done here is so abysmal.

I used to work in Angola where the Chinese Corp fixing the railway brought in some "very highly skilled" Chinese convicts to replace the unskilled locals - all they needed to know was how how to swing a shovel which is a skill apparently, but the saving on pay was enormous. Unfortunately there was a bust up when the locals complained and the guard in the local newspaper said" they ate all their dogs and disappeared".( That was published in the local media so please do not complain )

Interesting the largest number of visas issued were for tour guides. So we need to import foreigners in order to explain NZ history and culture to tourists?? ;-)

We had a fruit picker living with us last season. They were regularly netting $1000pw.

if most of the tourists that hire tour guides are Chinese.. yes.

Doesn't stack up. The tour guides are working in restaurant kitchens, scrubbing pots for the next five years.


No, the number doesn't stack up. 6,000+ tour guides in one year, and of course they are only needed for those tourists that don't self-drive (and in the main) don't speak English. So, yes, Chinese tourists are the biggest cohort in this regard.

But that group tour market is heavily regulated out of Beijing by way of a Chinese government approved tour operator program called ADS (Approved Destination Status);

And just as destinations are approved - so are the tour guides - and there are a total of 348 tour guides approved with ADS status;

Point is if the labour market size for tour guides for the Chinese visitor market is less than 400 people, it just doesn't stack up that the remainder of our non-self drive visitor numbers need anywhere near 5000+ additional tour guide operators per annum.

Just as the "chefs" are in the main kitchen hands, the "tour guides" are in the main retail workers - and the big story is how many of them have paid for their letter of offer of employment.


Thank you Kate, well done. Just shows what a joke our immigration service is that they can't (or won't) sort out what's going on here. Our immigration policy is, effectively, being administered by Chinese tour operators and Indian shopkeepers.

I don't know how they get visas but there are more Chinese driving tour buses and vans than European New Zealanders. Just watch the road between Christchurch and Arthurs Pass.

Are you sure these aren't through guides ("tour escorts") Kate?

Not sure what the question is? Do you mean do I think that the 6000+ visas granted for tour guides all relate to folks coming in to be tour guides, then my answer if unlikely - as per explanation above.

a lot are seasonal 5 to 6 months, you can not survive for a whole year on the pay so unless you can guide summer as something and work for the offseason or visa versa its a never ending turnstile, that is why most are young on a working holiday guides or students or if older semi retired that love he job but don't need the income

$1000pw? Interesting. Back in the late 90s early 2k I picked cherries and apricots in central otago. You could strain your back all day in the searing sun and barely break even after paying accommodation costs. The only way I made any decent money was when a grower let a friend and I stay on their property (in a tent) for free.

I suspect these foreign pickers are packing themselves into shared accommodation like sardines, just like you see in UK and US.

At the end of the say these jobs aren't helping establish families, and by extension communities and stable neighbourhoods. Everyone looking for an entry-level job is supposed to flit around the country depending on the whims of employers offering minimum wage.

Her goal was $1000pw and she knew how many buckets she had to pick per day to achieve that (She is a kiwi). As you will be aware picking isn't a 9am-5pm/5day week job. It's long hours, few breaks other than 30mins for lunch, and 7day+ weeks. All the crew managers were returning foreigners, all of whom spoke spanish.

Accommodation in the form of tent sites with ablution and communal cooking is provided by many of the orchards - but there is usually a charge which varies. One hostel type place charged $100/bed pwk with shared facitlities and you supply your own food etc. Many of the pickers with a vehicle prefer to freedom camp. Though there is a shortage of accommodation, that is about to change if a proposed 700bed accommodation proposal gets built in Cromwell.

These jobs do help establish communities - the owners of the orchards and the fulltime, year round staff that are employed. Without these seasonal staff, orchard families and their permanent staff wouldn't exist in their communities. But that is rural/provincial NZ - seasonal in it's nature.

Vineyard work where I live pays minimum wage.
Workers last year were sleeping in their cars, and on benches, because there was no accommodation to be had they could afford.
But vineyards refuse to pay their workers more.
I suppose we don't want to pay more for the wine, either....and so it goes...

Wine (and good wine!) is ridiculously cheap given the inputs (both labour and environmental costs), that's for sure.

Don't you know JK is Tourism Minister NZ


These employers really want to avoid the obvious solution. Pay more. (Note - I am an employer).


It is worse than just low wage levels. The seasonal fruit sector cannot offer steady employment. It rains, fruit is not ripe etc etc. You cannot blame anybody who may be on the dole not taking up this employment. If they have a family to house in rented accommodation they have high ongoing fixed costs that do not go away just because it is raining or some other spurious reason. Then you have the hassle of getting back on the dole when the work dries up. As things are it really is not worth kiwis taking on this very poor employment for an erratic and unreliable income that is little more than the minimum wage even when things are going well and be treated like dirt as well.
Key's solution solution of temporary 3rd world staff is as just plain lazy and unintelligent. I would have thought they could put a lot more effort into streamlining peoples relationship with the various benefits so that they can easily fit in with the erratic nature of this employment so that they are encouraged in this direction and hopefully full time employment.
The present arrangement provides no incentive for employers to improve their operations so that they can afford to pay decent wages and provide steady ongoing employment. We need a situation where there is some meaningful tension between employers and their staff so that the employers who do not cut the mustard exit and make way for people who can innovate and improve productivity. This along with so many of Nationals similar policies are holding the country back. The low wage, low productivity economic path that this government is taking us is just a race to the bottom.

Exactly right, these policies are backwards and not smart for the country, and only are good for a very small few, it's a blatant attempt at driving down wages in general.
Just more of this "haves and have nots" rubbish that NZ is heading towards rapidly like a freight train.

Yes, we need to distinguish between secure, full time employment and hourly rate/casual work - and benefits should not be abated for hourly rate/casual work that has no permanency associated with it. If that were the policy then existing local residents would be very happy to take on all forms of seasonal/temporary work.

It's simple - scrap the abatement regime.

Perhaps we could apply Gareth Morgan's deemed rate instead and deem each individual to be earning at 75% of the median rate ( I think in Gareth's plan this rate is open to tweaking ) and reduce the base benefit by a commensurate amount. There would no longer be a need for any abatement regime.

Correct, I have my 14 year old on $25 hour, because he is efficient and works hard. No problem paying mature efficient drug-free adults 70k a year to do gardening. Professional attitude, mature work ethic, efficient and productive, knowledgeable. ..and that is for supposedly low end work.Housing affordability is very linked to low pay,low productivity, poor work ethics, wage inflation is needed, 15 to 20% a year. Not driving the bottom end into poverty trap by bare subsistence ,no-hope incomes

I'd do your gardening for 70K a year.
Hard worker, mature, knowledgeable....
give me a ring :)


Can't believe anyone is falling for the "all unemployed are lazy stoners" line. The market is meant to respond to shortages through increased wages, training opportunities, etc. But as a business owner wouldn't you prefer to import cheap labour? That's what is happening. National governs for business owners and conveniently suspends the free market ethos in this case.

Has Key put forward a shred of evidence to back up anything he has said? Can a journalist challenge this rather than suck it up and repeat it. The deserving and undeserving poor. "Bludgers", He's playing a game, spinning and winning and implementing failed Tory policies.

Well, yes, the market for labour is GLOBAL now, just like our housing market. Damage to the social fabric of the country is irrelevant to the managerialist class because it cannot be parsed in excel.

Go back to the early age of the machine, when workers were coming off the land in into factories, and social commentators were talking about meaningful work.

Meaningful work, there is a lot in that.

The answer to an absence of meaningful work is not to bring in immigrants to do it.

and we are heading for a new revolution where a lot of jobs will be no more, 3D printing, driverless vehicles,
so what will we do with all the surplus workers

you can see the writing on the wall now

we have to stop immigration now, today, as they will be the surplus workers of tomorrow - and they will be our problem because we imported the problem

One has to start ignoring John Key and wait for the year to pass as no choice. Whenever they open their mouth it is either denial, lie or manipulation to suit their hidden motive and please their masters.


Key said the best data he had showed just 1% of net sales were to foreign buyers,

Yes when you exclude foreign students and temp workers. Someone let the id#ot I mean PM know that Canada and Australia both classify these two groups as foreign buyers.

Absolutely disgusting the BS this man talks...1% lol

Also 8 years in power and he doesn't know if a stamp duty can be applied ... seriously you have to wonder about who is leading this nation. Very sad state of affairs.

If he wanted to know he could find out in 1 day tops. How many lawyers would it take ? Seriously

He is master in lie and manipulation so just ignore him like roy1said.

He has totaly lost and just because media is polite to him and does not ask tough question or grill him, he feels that is able to bluff the entire nation without realizing that now he stands totaly exposed.

So best is to ignore him and waut for #JKEXIT


How correct. The more he faces media and opens his mouth, more he is exposed. Best part is that he, in his arrogance does not even realise that he stands exposed like aklnz mentioned

How much low will they go to defend their lies is to be seen.

Sorry for being blunt but respect has to be earned and..........

Conveniently overlooking the 30% that were on temporary visas or students, that are buying houses here.
How are they somehow Kiwi's now? well they aren't, and if they aren't Kiwi's then how are they not foreigners?

Interesting that Canada has a 25% drop is overall sales immediately after foreigners had the 15% stamp duty, and yet they would like us to believe that we are so different from Canada, and that only 1% of buyers are foreigners, I find it incredible they are still trying to spin this.
If Canada had such a massive drop after a 15% tax, it makes you wonder what the proportion of foreign buyers was over there, because presumably some of them are sucking up the 15% tax and still buying there.


It's simple logic. Paying people more is GOOD for the economy in general! More disposable income in peoples wallets is good for business. To force a situation where your local working people are in dire straits 24/7, where something as simple as the car breaking down can mean they can't pay for food that week or the electricity bill is short sighted. People burn out, lose hope, prop themselves up with drugs and alcohol under such conditions. It's bad for their health (mental and physical) thus VERY BAD for society as a whole.
But when we have corporate loving cronies who REALLY wish to sell the ENTIRE country and all its infrastructure + public services to the highest bidder, (preferably foreign it would seem) then watch as NZ slide into 2nd world status


Summary - our PM has no respect for a lot of kiwi workers, preferring foreigners.

Question - if I wanted to work in a Akl petrol station where would I apply - seems to be (hidden) closed shop, solely for JKs Indian "students".

That touches on another thing that you have to wonder about. Who supplied the where with all for the students to get into the country, who owns the petrol stations, what else is going on behind it all?

Along with the ability to purchase a takeaway shop, or a bakery, or the management/franchise of a service station, or a cafe or any shop in a new area - check Rototuna, Hamilton. I would say the biggest bulk of the new business operators are migrant, if not all, and I wonder just how that happens) Or maybe I don't.

I think what John means when he says we may not be able to put stamp duty on Chine is because if we do they

may find more rot in our kiwifruit and milk powder.... say it ain't true John

I reckon he is saying that to cover up the fact that it was his lot that signed away our right to just say, no more foreign buyers, and maybe a bit of what you said.

It is amazing how NZ has changed ... I cannot believe the level that some of the discussion about employment has gone down to !!
20 odd years ago we used to see bludgers and lazy people around applying for a warehouse packer or similar low skill job asking for an engineer's salary and have seen that attitude improving over the years ....

now I hear people refusing to work for whatever is available because it doesn't suit them or the pay is not worth getting up for it ( so for that they don't want businesses who need people to import workers they cannot find locally and stop immigration of low skill people so that they can command a higher wage when they decide to work) -- this is like good old Trade Unions' crap .... These clever dudes wont bother working as long as the Gov is paying them well through all sorts of benefits, and when they don't they will blackmail some left wing party to campaign for a benefit rise ( just to spoil them a bit more and encourage them to stay put...) ... One thing I don't get is that although being on a benefit is really bad ( I have been there for a short while) and it is miserable ... yet they don't want to change .... Even if you are paid min wage and your total income is a bit less, although I doubt that! ..but you open up doors and start building a future rather than remaining as a loser ! ( I only mean guys who are capable of working)

When will this end ?!! obviously most people know that:
1- Businesses ( mostly small) cannot be forced to pay more ( simply because they won't be competitive or they won't be able to stay in business ) and
2- Immigration will not stop because of a raft of factors, (one of which is labour shortage) and need to sustain the population .. need about 45,000 a year.
3- That there won't be a pay rise to all and sundry as long as the country haven't got the money and things are as they are here and in the world !!
4- The world is exporting ( mouth feeding) deflation to every country ...

so thousands of unemployed people in NZ do not want to leave the benefit because they don't want to be paid less or they can't be bothered moving and some of them here unashamedly criticise the Gov and hold them responsible for not being able to get a "Suitable" payed job ( maybe 6 hours a day instead of 8 , because it is "safer") for them .... but they can pop out kids they cannot feed because that is their pay rise now some of us is addicted to benefits and want the high and expensive type or else!
Obviously if that didn't happen then they call for the fall of the roman empire of the day ( they did that with Labour too) !!

Does anyone really believe that we should blame these poor immigrants who are willing to do some silly and tough jobs we don't want to do because they have ethics, drive and the work attitude. So Growers have to employ people at $20/h to pick fruit to export?? or you think that Hospitality industry and service stations can afford paying a cent above min wage to waiters and cleaners etc...?? Why do we have qualified CHEFS working as sales reps for 30K plus a miserable commission ??

These low wage workers have come here because of famine or looking to build a new life in a better and cleaner country - it is a 2 way street ( we need them like they need us) ... some of us is spoiled and wants everything for very little ..... We need to have and apply the US system where there is only food stamps for the needy and a small subsidy for rent not enough to live on ....otherwise if you are unemployed you will starve and have a crappy public health system....they have homeless people too you know the thousands !! , then everyone will get off his arse and become very creative to make a living ... and be thankful to get a job. there are millions in the US who work 2 and 3 jobs and travel 4-5 hours a day to where they work !! in DCM ( Don't Come Monday) system!

Up skill yourself and get a foot in the door - Rehabilitation and Training/ Upskilling of the work force has been a Global issue on a very large scale for over 5 years now - there are millions of people whose skills and positions are made, and being made, redundant everyday ( technology is only one reason) even engineers, ICT, techs and doctors need to continuously update and upskill before risking to be obsolete in their own companies and jobs ....

This is just out ...Go figure:


If you think living in a country where wages are very low is so great then why don't you move to India? surely that must be a fantastic place to be, based on the fact that it has really low wages right?

Eco Bird's worldview reads like some sort of effin nightmare to me. We should all be living more like princes than slaves by now. And we could have been if we had managed things properly.

The more you read it, the less it makes sense, he probably thinks North Korea is a model to be held up as an example, all the things he likes, low wages, low standard of living, no questioning the government, poor people out of sight and out of mind.

Zach i couldn't agree more. Yet another comment longer than the main article. I'm sure eco bird is national bird in disguise.

Not just that - there are a couple of National Birds. Recently on the same day the early shift said that prices in Vancouver were falling in an avalanche and then the evening shift said they were stable which suggests the National spin team is turned on 24/7 but they are not doing proper handovers between shifts.

Do kiwis like to work in weekends? No. Do kiwis like to work in Dairy shops? No . Same as two dollar shops, takeaways, petrol stations. Kiwis don't like to work long hours. They want to make money, pay less tax and enjoy family life. I strongly agree With John Key and admire him saying this openly.Well said Prime minister.


You strongly admire wages being driven down to a minimum is what you are really saying, it seems you like a country made up of mainly rich and poor, in other words a disaster for most people, but great for the rich 1%.


Dairy shops and $2 stores? Are you serious? There are more and more $2 shops where I live. It's a sign of decline. Dairy shops and takeaways are often family owned affairs. Plenty of kiwis work at petrol stations. A lot of kiwis work long hours. I've worked long night hours for years. You are full of it.

Take yourself and your racist attitude back to where you came from.

"They want to make money, pay less tax and enjoy family life."


Too risky to work in a dairy,liquor store,takeaway,taxi etc, see how many are held up by thugs these days.

Petrol stations and Burger King pay more than that Indian resturaunt that was paying $2 an hr

Yeah wasn't that the Masala guys, paying not tax either, wasnt 40mil taken by IRD to pay the bills....

Seems there could be an opening for accountants who speak indian next immigration cycle

oh heres another

Indian restaurant chef paid for employment opportunity, ERA finds

these indian restaurants have a serious issue with ripping off their staff and chefs, just stop importing more chefs and let them cook themselves!!!!

So why kiwis not working there?

I think this will be an important election issue along with housing, national have come out as a strong supporter of high immigration.
you think they would see what is happening in other countries and how quickly it can swing against incumbent government when the people decide it has gone too far, first brexit now Germany.

New Zealand needs high immigration at this point in time when you look at the future ageing demographics of New Zealand.

The median age of "Pakeha" White New Zealanders which are currently 74% of the total NZ population is (41). As compared to Asians (30), Maori (24) & Pasifika (22).

Asians,Maori & Pasifika all now have higher median birth rates in New Zealand than Pakeha.

NZ has a median birth rate below replacement level. NZ doesn't have enough taxpayers to keep Government pensions sustainable over the long term.

NZ has a fast ageing population with more Kiwis to be over 65+ than under 15 within the next 2 decades.

NZ has ghost towns appearing in the regions. The entire South Island population will only grow by 70,000 people over the next 15 years. Auckland will have a much higher share of the total NZ population in the future.

So when future demographics are considered "high immigration" is the only solution to a long term problem with short term pain.

Lets also not forget that Kiwis were migrating to Australia by 40,000-50,000 annually over the last 15 years.

Australia's population grew by the total population size of New Zealand within the last 13 years.

I guess you will be voting for that then whilst I will be voting for who will cap it at 25K for the next 10 years
as for people leaving, I have lost a lot of friends and family overseas, that many wanted to stay in NZ but saw no other option than to go somewhere where they got better pay and housing is cheaper and most of them were in the younger demographic so my argument to you is we are replacing our young with immigrant young because we have screwed it up for them over the last 20+ years, by lowering wages and increasingly house prices

Spot on share trader....many young kiwis are leaving and are being replaced by low skilled migrants. Why can't students perform these low skilled roles ?

Also in terms of immigrants how many bring there parents over and exactly how is that helping with an ageing workforce ?I haven't seen stats for a while.

The low birth rate has much to do with the collapse of the middle class - we're experiencing it very much in the same way the US is. If you have time, this explains it;

The similarities in NZ are strong. How many single income households with children do you know of? Yet most of our aging population were raised in single income households. Just not possible to stay in the middle class without two incomes in NZ these days. Hence the smaller families/lower birth rate.

Spot on Kate. Middle class getting squeezed. Even more reason why a vancouver tax should be implemented to take pressure off the house prices.

For the PM to come out and say 1% of buyersare foreign is absolutely a slap in the face.... does he really think the general public are complete idiots ?

The low birth rate is more a function of fertility rates - take a look at the Human Experiment doco on netflix.

I've heard that it is the poorer families that tend to have more kids....

There is a bit of research being done on this - e.g.

The link is more to the type of employment opportunities.

That article makes it sound like less middle income jobs cause people to have kids before getting married. Which supports the position that lower income = more kids and / or kids sooner?

@Crow. Your solution of high immigration does not make sense. Net internal immigration in New Zealand is out - repeat out - of Auckland. Explain for what high immigration is a fix for with that.

Crow22D - Please don't suggest JK is taking the long view, this is not a comedy show.

Oh this old horseshit again.

I'd love to some kids and keep those demographics in good shape. Thing is the internet told me not to have kids I can't afford. And I can't afford them because of mass immigration.

And all those people bought in to keep the population ponzi going. They get old someday too. What then? Sometimes I wonder what they put in the water in nz (other than camplobacter).

As would I. My partner and I have been crunching the numbers and we can just not afford to do it and provide the best for a child, so we will have to go without. My situation is common.

Previous generations didn't have this same view - as jobs/employment was plentiful and secure. Hence, no similar fears about whether the mortgage and/or the rent would be able to be paid in future.

It is also a fallacy that higher immigration counteracts population ageing. Beyond an annual immigration level of around 100 000 people, the demographic benefits have been shown to diminish greatly, with migrants impacting much more on the size of the population than on its age structure. The main reason is that migrants age too! We would need to bring in increasingly more of them to ‘backfill’ the age structure over time. Indeed, the Commission calculated that to preserve the current age profile of the population, the immigration-to-population ratio would need to rise to three per cent (triple its peak of 2008-9). This would make Australia a population ‘super-power’ of 100+ million people by mid-century!

It didn't stop Distinguished Professor Spoonley (Royal Society) using it on Nigel Latta's The New New Zealand.

The problem is you're not replacing like with like. Simply treating immigration like a technocractic management tool isn't healthy for the country.It is a social and culture issue. Demographic change will bring cultural and political change. More diversity also leads to less social cohesion and trust.

Look at UK, Europe and the problems there. In the UK muslims march in the streets demanding Sharia law and the end of the English as the dominant group. Recently in Germany, Turks held a very large rally in support of a foreign leader.

If you flood a country with new migrants, many of those migrants will naturally seek out communities full of people like themselves. They will be more comfortable there. Eventually these areas become ethnic ghettos. It sounds like a recipe for disaster for a country with a small population like NZ.


When I hear JK talking about foreign buyers only accounting for 1% I’m beginning to feel visceral anger towards the National party. Because I see my friends with high paying jobs who’ve become homeless renting casualties of that unrestricted influx of foreign capital. I walked past the Barfoot in Mission Bay tonight and saw that two of the three leaflets were solely in Chinese. I read zerohedge articles, and I see first hand what’s happening in the Shortland Street auction room. I see the ghost houses like 102 Kohimarama Road. 1% ! WTF that’s just such a bald-faced lie. Yes I hope that will be an election issue.


Foreign buyers according to NZ PM = offshore buyers

Foreign buyers according to Canada and Australia = offshore buyers + foreign students + temp visa workers

In nz foreign student and temp visa bought 13,500 houses last 12 months. That's 29% of resident buyer purchases. Approx 13bn worth of property or 1bn a month.


New Maths for Kiwi kids

Foreign buyers according to NZ PM = mates
Kiwi workers according to NZ PM = undesirable pain in buttocks
Homeless Kiwis according to NZ PM = its their own fault, not his problem
Kiwi voters according to NZ PM = gullible fools

I reckon he would vote National.

Only solution support and spread if you too feel the same : #JKEXIT at all platform.

Of NZ's 2.4% GDP growth last year, 2.3% is just new people coming into the country - the real economy has tanked. The lead indicator - Auckland productivity - is so weak; a massive crash cannot be avoided now - think Detroit. Short sighted decisions for political gain so I support #JKEXIT

This piece by Stephen Frank's explains why the govt cannot simply stop Chinese nationals from buying property. People tend to forget it was Phil Goff who signed this FTA.
Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] "with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal" of investments.

Lianne Dalziel was first politician to use the phrase "we are all migrants (despite 156 years of stable population since signing the Treaty).

delbooy. Which is simply why we apply any restriction to all foreign nationals from ALL countries and hey presto, China isn't being treated any differently and we are not in breach of our FTA.

we appointed this govt to solve problems not hide behind other political parties. National more concerned with political power than solving economic problems. NZ cant buy property in China go figure!!!

China breaks the free trade agreement all the time, why shouldn't we?
Kiwifruit, Steel, just a few recent examples.
Put the same tax on Aussies.
Or of course maybe just sit there do nothing and keep blaming Labour for all eternity.


Superdiversity and why it isn't: Reflections on terminological innovation and academic branding (2016)
Load of baloney but attracts funding and helps politicians political ends.

We have several new immigrant families in our town,one very nice family from india, but they are opening a dairy at a time when the other dairy in town is struggling from competition with supermarkets and cafes. Is there really a need for immigration? Or is it a short term economic fix.
The real problems are still brewing in the financial markets. At the time of the 2008 GFC global debt was 140 trillion it is now estimated at around 230 trillion. As someone said you can't solve a problem by making it bigger. The problems of 2008 are not yet resolved, immigration, letting in foreign investment (speculation), none of this is real growth and will create more pain for NZ when the ongoing GFC reaches completion.

Better to send all Kiwis to Aussie to work there and import our workers from other countries, do you think ?
Like some one said, it may improve the average IQ of both countries ?

I'm sure Key is suffering from verbal diarrhea cause whats coming out certainly stinks.


Can we please import some cheap parliamentarians to do the work that our lazy, drugged up, Auckland bound ones won't ?

Comment of the day.

Couldn't do any worse than the ones we have.

Brilliant! Its a win win. Pay them minimum wage, no state pension and according to John Key they would work harder

Immigrants willing to work for low or no pay to stay here is destroying our economy not enhancing our lifestyle, I know of a young kiwi seamstress who was on the unemployment benefit after leaving school, went to several interviews before work and income sent them to work for a fashion company sewing for some of our top designers, this company also employed another worker thru work and income, plus had 8-9 non speaking males of Indian ethnicity, the immigration department raided the premises and it was discovered he also had another factory at his home, Im pretty sure he is still in business.

The only question would be whether Key and the other mugs are asleep at the wheel or this is deliberate Asiafukation for short term economic gain going into the next elections.

I think the answer is fairly apparent.