New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to participate in this high level dialogue on international migration and development recognising that immigration and development issues and their impact require strategic discussion at the international level. This forum provides an opportunity to share best practices and explore and debate the complex links between migration and development.
New Zealand is, to a large extent, a country of migrants. We have large numbers of people both coming to and leaving our country. A big challenge facing New Zealand currently is the rebuilding of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Immigration will play a key role in the significant number of workers required over the years it will take to rebuild the city. Our focus in this area is on filling skill gaps and ensuring migrants have the same employment rights and protections as New Zealanders.
New Zealand has a distinctive history of connections with our Pacific neighbours, especially with regard to providing opportunities for people from Pacific island countries to access employment in both skilled and unskilled roles. In addition to our mainstream immigration policies, we have dedicated permanent immigration schemes for Pacific peoples – the Samoan Quota (for Samoan nationals) and the Pacific Access Category (for nationals of Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati).
Since the first High Level Dialogue in 2006, New Zealand has introduced the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. This scheme is recognised internationally as a best practice model for managed labour migration labour migration programmes, providing the opportunity for up to 8000 people a year to come to New Zealand to work in our horticulture and viticulture industries. When designing this scheme we drew heavily on the experiences of other countries (particularly Canada) with managed seasonal circular migration programmes.
Like many countries, New Zealand faces the challenge of balancing immigration with a commitment to ensuring that New Zealanders are provided with opportunities first. The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme is a ‘New Zealanders first’ policy which means it requires employers to engage with and train New Zealanders first, and only recruit migrant workers when there are not suitable New Zealand workers available. However, the RSE scheme also has a strong development focus – contributing to New Zealand’s broad objectives in the region with regard to encouraging Pacific economic development, regional integration, and stability.
It is an example of a win-win migration policy – fulfilling a labour need in a developed country and providing job opportunities for and flows of remittances back to communities in developing countries, as well as directly supporting the horticulture and viticulture sector, which is worth NZ$5billion to the New Zealand economy annually.
As the name implies, New Zealand regulates the employers as well as the migrants. In order to participate, seasonal employers must demonstrate a high standard of employment and pastoral care.
New Zealand’s immigration programme includes a successful settlement strategy encompassing, amongst other groups, refugees. We acknowledge that migration is a process that does not end when people reach our shores. It is important that migrants feel connected to New Zealand and make the most of their opportunities after arrival to contribute to a shared future in the country.
New Zealand believes that open dialogue between countries provides an effective way of addressing international migration issues. We are pleased to be participating in this forum and sharing our experiences, while learning about different approaches and models used in other countries.