Unions launch a pathways to residency campaign for migrant workers

A “Pathways to Residency” petition has been launched on Action Station for “normally resident migrant workers who have made New Zealand their home and deserve a place of sanctuary in today’s post-Covid world.”
The campaign is supported by Unite Union, One Union and the Migrant Workers Association.
The Covid crisis has exposed the fact that New Zealand has become over-reliant on migrant workers on temporary visas.
Currently, there are over 250,000 workers here on temporary visas. Many of them have been here for up to a decade and have made New Zealand their home. Many have children born here who know of no other life.
Many were sold a promise of eventually being able to gain permanent residency but had the bar of eligibility lifted on them after they arrived.
Permanent Residence visa numbers have been reduced whilst the number of people allowed in on temporary visas was increased before Covid hit. This has pushed the points required for permanent residence above that for nurses and teachers, for example. This is just nuts.
However, in the post-Covid world, New Zealand will not be able to re-establish a system involving the granting of a quarter of a million temporary visas each year to replace those who leave, as was what was being done pre-Covid.
It makes sense for us to offer permanent residency to those who have made New Zealand their home.
As a first step to repairing the broken system that currently exists the government should immediately:
  • Create a new “Pathway to Residency temporary visa” available to anyone currently on an essential skill or graduate job search visa who has been working and/or studying for five years or more.
  • Allow “normally resident” Kiwis stuck overseas to return to New Zealand on the same basis as citizens.
  • Offer migrants who may have overstayed their visas pathways to residency if they have made New Zealand their home and are without criminal convictions.
  • Provide an extension of the period for low-skilled visas (from the current 6 months to 12 months or longer).
  • Postpone the stand-down requirements which are coming into force in 2021 so a review can be held on long-term policy changes needed for this sector in the post-Covid world.
Many migrant workers and their employers desperately need the government to promise that they won’t be moving to deport people currently in work whose visas are going to expire over the next months. This is especially so when the virus appears out of control in so many countries.
This is a once in a generation opportunity to fix a broken system. We can give residency to those we lured here on false promises and changed the rules after they came. We can use the “Pathways to Residency Visas” to encourage workers to go to areas of the economy that need workers.
This is a win-win for workers, employers, and the government. It is a common-sense solution to a deep problem of our own making. It is the humanitarian thing to do in the world we are now living in.
Everyone currently in New Zealand has been part of the “Team of Five Million” and they deserve our solidarity and support.



  1. Nope. We have so many victims in NZ (that don’t have money to buy a new residency) -NZ lazy and woeful immigration practices are encouraging too many scams, in particular for labour – many led by the migrants themselves (aka Sroubek was able to get his wife residency through his ‘juice’ import business (with MDMA on the side, before getting residency himself while in jail). Something is wrong!

    Too many migrants also don’t get a criminal conviction because they claim they will not get residency and their crimes are discharged. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12260326 The end result is many people getting are residency in NZ of poor character and creating more victims in NZ from their crimes which go un or under punished compared to a local person.

    We clearly have been too lenient on some migrants living in NZ who are up to no good and getting the first of their kinds in this country aka terrorism (Tarrent), the first NZ trained doctor murderer in cold blood (Venod Skantha) , massive money laundering (William Yan AKA Bill Liu), time we actually clamped down on who gets into NZ and a higher standard of conduct expected for those who are temporarily living in NZ and who go onto NZ permanent residency and NZ citizenship.

    After 2 years living in NZ migrants can go on benefits (and in some cases straight away)… free super and health care for aged parents and free schooling and free health care for kids, state and emergency housing once they qualify. This is resulting in a massive influx of temp residents in NZ and competition for NZ’s working poor from jobs to housing to health care. Migrants certainly aint coming for NZ’s high wages and working conditions which are getting worse in real terms!

  2. Vinod Skantha wasn’t “ the first NZ trained doctor murderer.” The first who I can recall was Dr Senga Whittington, a white Kiwi OU med school graduate, who shot a fellow house surgeon at Dunedin Hospital, in the aftermath of a sexual relationship gone wrong. I wouldn’t use this as a basis for excluding either New Zealanders or women from medical school. Cherry picking.

    The ChCh mosque murderer has not gone unpunished – but brown Green women didn’t hesitate to use his evil
    actions to racially smear the whole of Pakeha New Zealand because of it. Judgments made on the basis of race or ethnicity, are not necessarily logical or sound. A man named Adolf did that too.

    • Dr Senga Whittington was manslaughter not murder. Prior to the murder, Vinod Skantha was treating patients while drunk, but still kept his job after lying about a dead mother who actually wasn’t dead, nobody checked his lies in the interests of public safety. It seems like he got special treatment, hung out with teenagers in his 30’s, and was allowed to behave unprofessionally and still keep his job… height of disgustingness when he roasted marshmallows while burning the bloody evidence. Similar to Tarrent, NZ has had mass murder before, but not at that scale and disgusting arrogance we are now seeing, which with hindsight maybe could have been avoided with a few more checks and balances (aka no gun license for Tarrent and better screening for Skantha).

      • Senga Whittington was charged with murder. It was the jury which decided that it was manslaughter. Juries are not infallible eg different outcomes for David Bain, and regular high profile appeals. Whittington garnered great sympathy for obvious reasons. The jury believed her story that she only intended to frighten her victim – with a loaded shotgun. If tried for a major crime, I’d prefer a trial by judge if not guilty, and trial by jury if I were.

        Your comments about Skantha, assume that non- immigrant doctors never behave badly. Not so. I know otherwise. Further, right now I could name a white NZ male who has behaved inappropriately with an elderly woman patient in the hospital wing of a care home, purporting to her that he is a doctor, when he is not registered as such with the NZ Medical Council. He may be a senior medical student, but according to the patient he said that because he is a doctor, he can do anything he likes.

        Predicting how anyone may behave in the future is not always possible. I suggest to you, that we who are human will react with sympathy to a colleague saying that their mother has died, and not swing into action to see whether he is lying or not – it is liars
        who tend to think that other people are liars too.

        Anyone can cherry pick examples to support an argument, but if there is systemic disfunction in the justice system which favours immigrants over other people, then you should present your evidence of this to the solicitor general. You owe it to all New Zealanders to do so.

        • Thanks for that cogent argument Snow White. It gets tiresome the number of people who are prepared to tar whole groups with the brush of an individuals actions. Holding groups collectively responsible for the actions of an individual is specifically a no go area in international law and basic humanatarian rights. Anyone wishing to spread the blame from the individual to a group should hang their head in shame

          • Thanks pal.I felt I could have done it better, but was jolly tired. Still am.
            But this whole Kiwi thing of demonising identity groups because of one individual is quite insidious, unfair, and plain dumb.

            It’s so bad I’ve wondered if there’s other agendas, or paid shills. It’s very wrong for immigrants often enticed here, to be unfairly typecast as baddies ; equally bad now for many who of us who were born here; I worry about my innocent little grandchildren growing up in a country where people have been, and are being, deliberately set against each other. It’s very destructive.

    We have far too many immigrants who have worked their guts out for years and still not gained residency, it is a disgrace. Of course I have signed and sent it to 40 people.

    There is of course a separate issue of people being brought in to to labouring jobs, plant trees, picking fruit etc. But frankly if these jobs were paid properly we would get Kiwis to do them.

    I read somewhere about an orchard owner in Otago who said he didn’t want Kiwis because Pacific islanders pick three times as fast, frankly he should work picking for a month to show us all how it is done! I am tired of these types moaning.

  4. I’d really rather unions concentrated on reducing the numbers of visas and requiring employers to hire kiwis. That is the law as it stands, but it has ignored by the corrupt neoliberals who have misgoverned NZ for so long.
    This is a key driver of the burgeoning inequality that plagues New Zealand, and unions should be resisting it, not facilitating even more slave workers.

  5. The international covid crisis has lifted the scab on a dirty business

    I hate food waste and this is a real scandal, it should never have been allowed to get to this position.

    Fields of courgettes go to waste because grower can’t get workers
    7 Nov, 2020 06:23 PM

    That was the headline on the NZ Herald Business Page

    Let’s unpack it.

    Just has he has done in years past, an employer freely chooses to take a punt on exploiting migrant labour, knowing full well the risk in getting labour from overseas during a global pandemic. 

    This year, Heap planted 60,000 plants where he might usually plant 100,000. The level of planting was partly due to a lack of staff and partly caution He cobbled together a workforce through locals and Thai agricultural workers resident in New Zealand.

    The business association, Horticulture NZ, use the story of this man’s greed to pressure the government to open the borders, knowing full well the risk their demands represent to public health and the spread of the disease.

    Hort NZ chief executive Mike Chapman said it was incredible to be facing a harvest season with unresolved issues that were known about six months ago.

    Chapman wrote in May of the need for RSE workers. To now be in November with no plan to solve workforce problems was staggering.

    “We haven’t slowed down our campaign to say we need to have the borders opened.”

    The importation of Covid-19 with Russian fishing crews recently was “definitely unhelpful” but didn’t undermine the case for industry-led managed isolation and quarantine, he said.

    The horticulture industry in New Zealand is one of the largest employers in the country, employing over 60,000 people and worth over $8.8billion NZ Dollars annually.

    You can guarantee that little of this $8.8 billion NZ Dollars goes to the migrant RSE workers who actually create it.

    Employer Bret Heap describes the working conditions behind this $8.8 billion industry. Heap could easily be describing the working conditions in the antebellum Southern states of America.

    …the RSE staff worked the two-to-three month picking season with seven-day working weeks and working days that begin at dawn and finish on dark.

    Bret Heap moans about his rights to maximise profits through exploiting RSE workers.

    ….Heap’s business, it was geared to Thai workers with specialist knowledge that reduced waste and maximised profitability.

    While I personally abhor the waste he and his industry have created, I have no sympathy for Bret Heap’s plight.

    As Arlo Guthrie sang;
    “Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?”
    “Is this the best way we can raise our good crops?”


    • We keep hearing how the ‘tourism’ industry is in desperate need as they have no tourists anymore, why are the tourism workers not being redeployed to the horticulture industry….

      Is it because you are better off on the dole and wage support than the slave wages and high living costs of the horticulture industry, in which case is that not the bigger issue of why they can’t attract staff….

      I have a bit of sympathy for the faming/horticulture sector as it is hard work for often little financial rewards for many in the industry….

      in particular, the supermarkets do not support smaller local farmers and are increasingly importing in foreign fruit and vegetables. Supermarkets in NZcould support local industry and jobs, but don’t, if they do grow local it is huge intensive farms not smaller ones. Supermarket business models are wiping out small farmers and growers and making it uneconomic for many farmers.

      I have no idea why NZ does not sell NZ frozen berries in it’s supermarkets as we produce high quality strawberries and blueberries etc… Covid shows that local growing is critically important for NZ strategically.

      If we want to grow the NZ economy then people have to look at the bigger picture of what is going wrong with globalism and how to protect NZ from the harmful side effects of slave labour, decreasing wages in NZ, intensification and monopoly of farming and increased harm from disease and climate change (and possibly war in the future) who knows.

    • Bret Heap said that if he had to employ New Zealand residents he would have to hire two workers for every migrant worker. Bret Heap also said that the migrant workers he imports have to work from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. At this time of the year the sun rises at 6am and sets at 8pm. That is 14 hours a day in the fields, adding prep time and travel time and pack up time that is twice the 8 hour day that Samuel Parnell fought for in this country 180 years ago.

      It is because of Samuel Marsden’s efforts that two New Zealanders would have to hired to work for 16 hours.

      In 1840 a British immigrant carpenter Samuel Parnell, on arriving in this country fought for the right to work no more than 8 hours a day.
      If Samuel Marsden had been a vulnerable RSE worker, bound to one employer, he would have been sent back home on the next ship, and never employed again in this country.

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