New Zealand wants Kiwis to come home

Government plans blitz to lure 600,000 expatriates home to address labour shortage

New Zealand is planning a campaign to lure expatriates home in an effort to plug a labour shortage.

But the government has resisted calls from employers to boost immigration levels to solve the problem, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.

The campaign to lure New Zealanders home could set the stage for a labour battle with Australia. Australia is facing a similar shortage, and a good percentage of the estimated 600,000 New Zealanders working abroad are in Australia.

New Zealand’s Labour and Immigration Minister Paul Swain said the government is also looking at ways to encourage families — particularly grandparents — to attract people home.

“There’s a lot of Kiwis who have been away for maybe longer than five years who do not know exactly what has happened here,” Swain told the Herald. “The fact that we have got an economy booming, the fact that we have skill shortages, the fact that we need to get them home.”

The government said research has indicated that, besides news on the legendary All Black rugby wins, little information about New Zealand is filtered through to expatriates.

The government’s immigration quota for the year is 45,000, but with two-thirds of the financial year over, only 25,694 residency applications have been approved. Recent changes to the immigration policy and increasing competition from Australia, Canada and Britain have made the problem worse, the Herald said.

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