27 Apr 2012

Actors' union worried about jobs under law change

8:28 pm on 27 April 2012

Two veteran actors are speaking out against new immigration laws that make it easier for foreign performers, musicians, technicians and other crew to work in New Zealand.

From Monday, foreign actors who want to work here for less than 14 days, or with an official co-production, or an accredited company, won't have to be vetted by an industry union or guild concerned a New Zealander could do the same job.

The changes have come from concessions made with film company Warner Bros at the end of October 2010, amidst fears a dispute with actors would force the Hobbit movies to be made elsewhere.

An organiser for Actors Equity says until now, film industry workers from other countries have had to get a letter of non-objection from an actors union to work in New Zealand.

Anna Majavu says that has acted as a deterrent, but now the way is opened for anyone in the world to work here for 14 days without having to be vetted by the unions.

The Immigration Service has been holding a series of briefings throughout New Zealand to explain to film production companies how the accreditation process associated with the new rules will work.

The Screen Producers and Development Association says it believes budget constraints and the recognised talent base in New Zealand means an influx of foreign film industry workers is unlikely.

But actors Ian Mune and Dame Kate Harcourt both fear foreigners could scoop New Zealander's jobs.

Dame Kate says it could mean fewer small jobs, which are vital for New Zealand actors to survive.

"I think it's an extremely short sighted plan and it's going to disadvantage a lot of New Zealand actors who need the work. And who are equally talented to the people that they are bringing in."