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Offline Nolan

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Article in UK paper about NZ
« on: October 23, 2006, 09:48:35 am »
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/cash/story/0,,1928176,00.html

Land of sunshine and sensible house prices

If you are on New Zealand's 'most wanted' list for immigrants, its beach bum lifestyle could be yours for the enjoying

Lisa Bachelor
Sunday October 22, 2006
The Observer


New Zealand may be closely associated in many people's minds with activities such as bungee jumping and zorbing (rolling down a hill in a giant hamster ball) as well as the Lord of the Rings. But now the country needs you - and not just for your tourist dollar.
Over 60 companies have made their way to the UK in the past week to try to attract future employees as part of the Opportunities New Zealand expo, held this weekend in Manchester.

'With unemployment at 3.6 per cent, it's a fantastic time to come to New Zealand to work,' says Department of Labour regional manager Andrew Lockhart. 'There are plenty of opportunities for migrants who have the qualifications that employers are looking for. If you add in what New Zealand has to offer in terms of lifestyle, there are compelling reasons for UK nationals with the right skills to explore their career options.'

Lifestyle was an important factor for those attending last year's event; 30 per cent of whom said they wanted to move to New Zealand for work, 91 per cent said they were after a change of lifestyle. And with good reason, it seems. Auckland and Wellington ranked fifth and 12th, respectively, out of 215 world cities for quality of life in this year's Mercer Quality of Living survey - London, by comparison, was 39th and Glasgow and Birmingham joint 55th.

Unemployment is also lower than in the UK, it is generally easier to get on the housing ladder, you are rarely more than an hour from the beach and there is lots of green space. And the weather is probably warmer than you had imagined - most places in New Zealand enjoy more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas - Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough - basking in more than 2,350 hours, according to Tourism New Zealand.

But not everyone is a shoo-in (journalists, for example, are not on the list of those in demand.) Those who will be welcomed include health professionals, construction and engineering managers, water and civil engineers, surveyors, civil servants, IT professionals, accountants and trades people such as plumbers and electricians. The New Zealand government says it is looking for 35,000 IT professionals alone over the next 10 years and 300 jobs are available right now with four of the country's main technology companies.

Those with the right skills could be eligible for permanent residency via the skilled migrant scheme. The scheme works by point-scoring those on the basis of a range of criteria such as qualifications, work experience, family connections and whether or not they already have a job offer.|

Anyone interested should fill in an expression-of-interest form from New Zealand's migration website (see contacts below). Applicants who score highly enough will then be selected for further checks before residency is granted. Last year 51,000 people were granted skilled migrant status, and 40 per cent of these were from the UK.

'The whole process can take as little as three months. Preference is granted to those who are prepared to live outside of Auckland,' says Graham Baker, group manager of service delivery at New Zealand's immigration department.

But the islands are up against stiff competition from their nearest neighbour. Traditionally, Australia has been a honeypot for UK nationals looking for work and a better life, but Baker says: 'Many of our immigrants have initially been interested in Australia but change their mind when they visit our country - it's more compact, has a moderate climate, a population of just 4 million and nowhere is too far from the shore.'

I moved for love

Thirty-five-year old Elton McAleer moved from London to New Zealand in January. His motivation was love rather than money.

'I'm marrying a Kiwi girl in February. We met in London but her time on her visa was running out. I was at the point in my career where things were difficult financially and I knew that my skills would be in demand over in New Zealand,' he says.

Elton, who works in publishing as a colour management specialist in Auckland, says that while his salary when converted to pounds sterling is 'only as much as I was earning at 18', he has more left in his pocket at the end of the month. 'I am much better off and it is much easier to afford your first home here,' he says.

It is people, not places, that he misses from the UK. 'We were over in England in August this year and coming back here I really noticed how much cleaner the air is. I had a moment sitting on a rock looking over lake Wanaka when I felt so privileged and thought 'this is where I want to be'.

And he speaks to his parents more now than ever. 'We speak every weekend and now know the ins and outs of each other's lives for the first time. They're coming over for the wedding and are even thinking of retiring over here in a few years,' he says.

He doesn't miss the 'drink after work' culture of the UK and is now more likely to head to the beach or join in a game of sports after work.

But he does miss his record and DVD collection: 'I arrived with nothing more than three rucksacks, thinking I wouldn't miss my material goods. But I'm now getting 480kg of my possessions sent over and I can't wait. We're planning to have a stuff-warming party when it gets here.'