Kaikōura businesses hit by staff shortages

8:40 pm on 18 July 2017

Staff shortages are starting to bite in Kaikōura - as the country's biggest ever roading project trucks on.

Workers clear the slip at Ohau Point north of Kaikōura.

Workers clear the slip at Ohau Point north of Kaikōura. Photo: Transport Minister's office

1300 staff are working on rebuilding State Highway One.

But business owners say construction companies are poaching their staff, putting them under even more pressure during an already tough time.

Sam Baker, who runs the local hardware store and employs about 35 people, said it was very hard to maintain staff.

He said they were "blinded" by the money offered by some other companies.

"So when staff leave I have to try and replace them quite quickly or scale my business back or worst case close," he said.

He raised the issue with Ministers Steven Joyce and Nathan Guy during a meeting with business owners in Kaikōura today, and was backed up by a local recovery manager.

The ministers told him they were willing to work with businesses on the issue.

Mr Baker said he would like better communication with authorities - and some businesses may need more money to help get them through winter.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said six months ago local people were worried about what staff were going to do.

"And now we're in a situation where we don't have enough staff, so that's the good side of it."

But he acknowledged there were concerns that as Christmas approached, there would not be enough staff to coming in to replace those working on the roads.

"And that's where I think your working holiday makers and those sorts of people will come back in, the backpackers will open up again - it's going to be a busy town, there's no doubt about that, for the next 12 months."

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