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Landscape views - Issue 19

This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry

Q. Have you tried to recruit an overseas worker? If so, what was your experience?

Lakes Landscapes

Interviewee: Chris Jones – Director/Designer Location: Wanaka

Staff: 5

I’ve only sponsored one person on a work visa, and I guess I would call it a success, as he ended up getting his residency! We used an immigration agency to smooth the way, because it takes the hassle away from the whole process and I didn't want to handle the red tape.

As we’re based in Wanaka, we get a lot of people on Working Holiday Visas looking for work and we’re happy to employ them.

For us, it’s a win/win because they’re often skilled and can teach our staff a thing or two on the way. We live in a pretty transient place anyway, so the fact that they’re only around for six months or so doesn’t bother us.

I’m not 100% clued up with the new visa system (Accredited Employer Work Visa) but, in general, I think it needs to be easier to recruit skilled landscapers from overseas.

We’re singing out for experienced workers and we haven’t got the Kiwis to do the job, so people are forced to overpromote and the quality of the work suffers.

Tauranga Landscaping

Interviewee: Alan Collingwood – Owner/Director

Location: Tauranga

Staff: 5

I currently employ a couple of staff from overseas on Working Holiday Visas, so I haven’t had to be accredited with INZ. We’ve done the same previously and a few recruits have turned into really good workers and stayed with us for as long as their visas allowed.

Normally, they’ll want to travel New Zealand as well, so I always come to an arrangement where they work for a chunk of time and then take longer off to see the rest of the country. I find that works well for both parties.

It is frustrating that you can’t offer them permanent work under the Working Holiday Visa – most are keen to learn and work hard. I’ve looked at sponsoring workers, but I decided against it because of the amount of paperwork I’d have to get through.

I just don’t think hiring permanent employees from overseas is worth it, because it’s currently just a dead-end process. It needs to be made easier.

I think this government don’t want people to come in and have made it unnecessarily difficult to hire from overseas.

Three Trees Landscaping

Interviewee: Stefan Curry – Owner/Director

Location: Wellington

Staff: 16

I have recruited one person on the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), a fella from Canada. He was already in New Zealand, but his visa was running out, so we had to sponsor him through the AEWV system.

We had to get accredited with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) first but, to be honest, the whole process wasn’t too painful – it was just a lot of form-filling! I filled in all the accreditation documentation myself and needed just one phone call to INZ to clarify some detail. It’ll open the gate for us because we can recruit up to five more employees from overseas, which is a big benefit.

I think it’s a great option for us moving forward and I’d encourage other landscapers to get accredited, too. I can’t see work slowing down, so we will need the workers.

I have 17 staff and this was my first time employing someone who isn't a Kiwi. Overall, it’s been a good experience and I’d do it again if the right person was looking for a job.


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