New Zealand at a Glance
Working in New ZealandiStockphoto
As the seat of the national Parliament, Wellington is New Zealand's political center.
The prospect of living and working in New Zealand attracts thousands of people each year. The conditions are not bad. In international comparisons, the country continually ranks among those nations with the highest economic freedom and the lowest rates of corruption. Although kiwis, wool, and dairy products remain New Zealand’s most competitive exports, its economy also offers expats lots of employment opportunities in other sectors.
The country also remains a popular destination for self-made expats who like the lifestyle and the country’s natural beauty. Although salaries are decent, making big bucks is hardly a primary goal of many expatriates in New Zealand.
This is also reflected in the sectors in which foreigners are typically employed. While in places such as Singapore or Hong Kong, most expats are found in finance or engineering, expats in New Zealand are employed in much more diverse fields. These include education, healthcare, and forestry.
There is no single set of skills which will secure you a dream job offer. Professional skills in demand in New Zealand include forestry, engineering, and IT skills. The necessary qualifications for working in New Zealand’s education and healthcare sectors are also beneficial. Many expats in New Zealand give you only this one piece of advice: Working in New Zealand requires both a lot of initiative and persistence.
English is by far the predominant language in New Zealand. However, the country actually has three official languages: English, Maori, the Polynesian language spoken by the indigenous people and – surprising for many – New Zealand Sign Language, which was made the third official language in 2006.
98% of people New Zealand speak English, whether as their first or second language, and English is used as the main medium of communication. Thus, it is almost self-evident that sufficient knowledge of English is indispensable for anyone who is considering working in New Zealand.
But even those with a decent knowledge of English might need some time to adjust to the distinct local pronunciation. In addition, numerous Maori words have found their way into everyday New Zealand English. Whānau for extended family or kai, meaning food, are just some of them. Many words for flora, fauna, and scenery are also derived from te reo Māori, as are many place names – the pronunciation of their destinations has given many an expat working in New Zealand a hard time.
Work Permits for New Zealand can be issued for a maximum of three years – and in order to apply, you already need a confirmed job offer and a signed employment contract. Even with a contract, there still is some paperwork ahead of you.
First, you need to prove that you possess the qualifications necessary for a specific position. Foreign qualifications usually have to be evaluated by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) before an expat can begin to work in New Zealand.
Second, your employer must show that they have searched for a suitably qualified New Zealander before hiring a person from abroad. Third, authorities will administer a Labor Market Test before issuing a foreign employee with a work permit. The procedure may be accelerated if your professional skills are listed on the Essential Skills in Demand List or if you consider working at a local branch of your current company.
Once you have secured your permit, you can move to your new home together with your dependent family members. While spouses of expats working in New Zealand have to apply for a separate work permit, they do not need a confirmed job offer prior to their arrival.