One of my mentors when I was in business, was a South African. He was the deputy Chief Executive of one of Australia’s largest banks. Over time, he placed several skilled South Africans into managerial positions in the bank around New Zealand. They all became successful, contributing both to the economy and society. Some of them also became very good clients of mine.
Recently, I had my house and garden renovated by a team of seven workers. Only one of these workers was a New Zealander (from a farm). Two were from England, two from South Africa, one from Brazil, and one from Italy. They all wanted to stay in New Zealand and to contribute to society and the economy. Apart from the main builder (English and now a New Zealand citizen), the remainder had working visas and were waiting to become New Zealand residents or citizens. My main concern was for the two South Africans, both family men who had sold up and immigrated to New Zealand.
Talking to these two men raised many concerns for me, let alone them. Their main concern was whether they could stay in New Zealand. They had stories of families being separated for over twelve months. The first South African told me the story of his South African doctor in Lower Hutt. She has been unable to get her husband and children to New Zealand for over twelve months. The husband is a highly paid professional. However, this government will not let him or the children into New Zealand. She investigated whether Canada would accept her, her husband and family, and they said they would. Consequently, she is moving to Canada. As he said to me, one would think this country needed more doctors and skilled workers.
The second South African told me it took him 103 days to get a visa accepted to come to New Zealand. He only had three months to sell his two houses, which he did. He was a builder in South Africa. The government is looking to change the rules on providing working visa holders residency in New Zealand, so he may be forced to leave and move to Australia, something he obviously does not want to do. This uncertainty has caused him and his wife great stress and worry as to whether they will be able to remain in New Zealand.
He told me about his South African friend in Hamilton who is in the same predicament and has now developed health issues. His friend is also a skilled worker, but it seems this government does not care or want to assist this person either. Obviously, these men do not speak very fondly of this government or the Immigration Minister, Chris Faafoi. They feel unwanted, disrespected and not needed in New Zealand. The situation was the same for the young English guy, Brazilian and Italian man. None of them want to return home, for obvious reasons. They are all educated men who will eventually seek better paid jobs and in time contribute to our economy and society. But for the time being, they appear to be low paid workers who this government does not want.
Not only is this government acting cruelly to these men, but also to the many other workers this country has encouraged to come here; to be nurses in our hospitals, and to care for our elderly, for example. They cannot bring their families to New Zealand to join them because they arrived pre Covid, even though New Zealand now has over 1,700 MIQ rooms available. If this government is considering their applications, it is refusing to move quickly and compassionately. It begs the question, why?
Does this government believe jobs can be filled by New Zealanders? Maybe. Yet over 72,000 people remain on the Job Seeker subsidy, with 60,000 on this subsidy for nearly twelve months. A total of $100 million of fruit exports have gone to waste because we can not bring pickers in from the islands. These are people who desperately need the money. Thus, on the one hand, New Zealand is subsidising those who do not want to work, then on the other hand preventing those who want to come to New Zealand to work. Further, separating families with skills for an unacceptable time, forcing them to leave New Zealand permanently, and for those on work visas who are deemed low paid, fearing their visas will be cancelled and they too will be forced to move to another country. This makes no economic sense and lacks any humanitarian response. This is not a kind and caring government, but a cruel one.
As I said at the start, my South African mentor encouraged many good people to come to New Zealand to help build our economy and society. They all became good citizens, just like all the good men I met and all those who have come here to care for our sick and elderly. They are all our future doctors, builders, nurses and caregivers. If we do not allow these people to stay, who will replace them while we continue to have a shortage in all these positions and many more?