200 Chinese tradies to complete Auckland Hotel

Updated Version

Tom Furley

Auckland, February 9, 2018

Up to 200 tradespeople from China will be flown in to complete a high-end Auckland hotel.

The more than $200 million Park Hyatt Hotel in the city’s Wynyard Quarter is set to be finished by March next year.

Beijing-based property developers Fu Wah said that a shortage of skilled workers in the construction sectors meant their project could be delayed for months if they did not provide their own workers.

Specialist skills

Its New Zealand General Manager Richard Aitken said that they planned on bringing up to 200 workers from China to help the 300 local staff already on site.

“There will be a number of skills mainly around fine decorating including stone work, tiling, wallpapering, painting, veneer work – there’s quite a lot timber veneer within the hotel, so they’ll bring those skills to us,” he said.

He said that they had worked on similar hotels in China and would be involved in fitting out the front-of-house areas as well as the hotel’s 195 guest rooms.

Mr Aitken said that the immigration process was already underway with the first of the workers due to arrive next month on short-term work visas.

Most of the workers would come in June and July and stay until February.

Astronomical demand

“Whilst those skills do exist in New Zealand and local workers are very well qualified for this – we need a number of people for a concentrated period of time and we need them in large numbers. That is really why we are looking for this workforce to supplement the local labour force that we have working on the hotel,” Mr Aitken said.

He said that the workers would be earning the usual New Zealand market rate.

Building Recruitment Managing Director Kevin Everett said that for the past year, his recruitment firm had more jobs than people to fill them.

“There’s astronomical demand, there are shortages everywhere from skilled to semi-skilled, to labour. We just cannot get reliable people. The feedback that we are getting for 2018 from our clients is that they are all expecting a big year this year and that is putting pressures on everyone because they just cannot get the manpower.”

Largest bulk

Mr Everett said 200 workers was one of the largest bulk foreign recruitments he had heard of in the sector, but he also said companies were often left with no choice.

“I have heard of people going in and getting 40 or 50 people in one hit. We are looking at doing a campaign just now to go across to the UK; so, we are going to go to London, Manchester, and Glasgow and try and bring people. We are looking for at least 100 people in all different skill sets, in residential and commercial,” he said.

Inherent risks

Mr Everett said that there were risks involved in bringing in overseas workers including communication, health and safety, quality control and understanding New Zealand’s building regulations.

Specialist Trade Contractors Federation President Graham Burke agreed that companies had no choice but to look overseas for the short to medium term.

Christchurch Lessons

However, he said lessons had been learned from the Christchurch rebuild, where quality issues sprang up as a result of foreign workers.

“The lesson from that is the need to make sure people are actually aware of the systems and standards that we adhere to in New Zealand and that there is quality management systems and supervision in place to make sure standards are met.”

It was also important the industry and government worked towards training people to fill the gaps in the long-term.

Under Labour’s immigration policy another 1500 skilled tradespeople will be allowed in under its KiwiBuild Visa scheme.

Tom Furley is a Business Reporter at Radio New Zealand. Indian Newslink has published the above report and pictures under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

Indian Newslink update:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway issued the following statement to our newspaper:

Industries will get the workers they need, and it is clear we need workers in the construction sector to address the infrastructure deficit and housing crisis caused by the previous National Government’s failure to deal with these issues. The KiwiBuild visa is an example of how we will be responsive to the needs of industries to find the workers they need.

New Zealand citizens and residents are given first priority when vacancies are advertised before the jobs are offered to people from overseas who are on labour-market tested work visas.

Immigration officers need to be satisfied that there are no suitable New Zealanders available to take up a job which has been offered to a foreign national who does not already hold a visa which enables them to work.

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Photo Caption:

  1. Park Hyatt Hotel under construction in Auckland (Picture for RNZ by Tom Furley)
  2. An artist’s impression of Park Hyatt Hotel after completion (Picture by ar + d / Bossley Architects through Radio New Zealand)

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