A Cook Islands businessman is asking the New Zealand government to add Fiji to its transit visa exemption list to address its labor shortage.
Steve Anderson, owner of Pacific Property and Anderson Ltd, among other businesses, said a severe labor shortage was suffocating employers with around 700 vacancies in the Cook Islands, largely due to job losses. people leaving for New Zealand.
It said it lost a quarter of its staff to New Zealand after paying thousands of dollars in relocation costs to bring in workers from the Philippines.
Anderson said there had been much discussion around arranging a “one-off flight” from Fiji to bring in workers, but it was impractical.
It would be more viable for workers to trickle in, he said.
“Fiji is not, as I understand it, part of the transit visa waiver, so it’s difficult to get Fijian workers through New Zealand,” Anderson said.
“A direct flight is unlikely in my opinion, and others, because we would have to fill the flight and of course it would come back empty,” he said.
Immigration New Zealand said that although Fiji is not listed as a visa-free or transit country, people can apply for a transit visa.
Anderson said that’s good news, but it’s also another hurdle for employers to jump through.
He also felt that New Zealand companies could help by not depriving the Cook Islands of vital workers.
“They just need to ask themselves how they would feel if Australia actively recruited their staff, how would they feel if they took on someone else’s staff.”