21 Feb 2017

Christchurch, Kaikōura turn to Pacific for rebuild workers

9:24 am on 21 February 2017

The Kaikōura earthquake could create opportunities for Pacific workers helping with the Christchurch rebuild as part of a trades training programme.

Christchurch construction.

Christchurch construction. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Wednesday will mark the sixth anniversary of Christchurch's destructive 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Among those helping rebuild the city are 24 workers from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, who were brought to New Zealand last year for a new trades training pilot programme.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment initiative aims is to fill employment shortages here, while supporting development across the Pacific region.

Mr Hoskin said Christchurch was the obvious choice for the pilot programme, with strong demand in the construction industry and qualified carpenters available in the Pacific.

He said the Kaikōura earthquake provided further opportunities.

"The November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake is expected to lead to a short term increase in demand for construction workers, especially in the civil engineering and commercial construction fields," he said.

Semi Gaga

Construction worker Semi Gaga. Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

One of the men involved in the programme, Fijian native Semi Gaga is helping to build a justice precinct in Christchurch, which will open later this year.

He said he had learnt a lot from working on construction sites here, which he could take back to Fiji.

"Health and safety was the main thing, which is more strict... like back at home we can just pop into any work site just in barefoot."

Matt Hoskin said other labour hire companies in Christchurch had expressed interest in taking on workers from the Pacific.

He said it would assess whether the programme should be extended when the pilot ends in October.

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