Dear Kris – 19 exploited migrant workers help INZ but are denied a pathway to residency

Dear Kris,
I am writing on behalf of a group of 19 exploited migrant workers who were given a special visa to stay in NZ to help INZ with a prosecution but have missed out on a pathway to residency because of that help.
That is just not fair.
I represented a group of around 60 Chinese construction workers who arrived in NZ in the middle of 2018 – over three years ago.
They had signed contracts with National Personnel Ltd (NPL) through a company agent named Peter Li.
There seems to have been a fallout between NPL and Peter Li and they did not receive work from NPL Limited immediately but were taken around the country and parcelled out to various employers for work.
This came to the attention of INZ who began an investigation.
Unite Union took a case against NPL and Peter Li for compensation for lost wages which was settled before going to court with the workers receiving at least what they would have got under the original contracts.
Many workers were taken on by NPL as part of this process and have essentially been employed for three years or more.
When Unite began representing these workers in January 2019, we got INZ to allow them to change employers if they wanted to. We helped find them alternative employment if they wanted.
All these workers have been here for over three years.
If they had not been abused and exploited by Peter Li and his agents they would have become eligible for the pathways.
Peter Li and his colleagues are being prosecuted.
19 of the group agreed to assist the prosecution and were given a special visa to allow them to do so.
This visa is meant to be for short periods only and usually doesn’t allow work. In this case however it has already dragged on for two years and could go longer.
These workers came here lawfully over three years ago with proper visas with a reputable company, NPL Ltd. INZ gave out the visas on that basis.
Peter Li had been the agent of that company. The fallout between them led to Peter Li making these workers work for other companies.
Either Peter Li lied about being an agent of the company originally, or NPL unlawfully repudiated the contracts. I assume the court case will reveal the truth.
But these workers have done nothing wrong.
They deserve their three years work to be recognised and given a pathway to residency now.
This is the only humane thing to do.


  1. This government will go down as one with the worst ministers that seem unable to take advise or listen to feed back.
    Immegration splitting families 3 Waters not wanted by 69 percent covid management getting worse by the day with being caught out ill prepared for the inevitable need for extra nurses and hospital space medical cannabis not sorted housing and renting both out of control.
    This is the end result of a poor opposition and no control from prospective partners .As so many say role on the next election

  2. Labour HQ
    Dear Mr Treen
    Thankyou for your letter. We do value your custom.
    Currently the minister is so overloaded through having so much in his portfolio that he can’t possibly get anything done or do anything . Come to think of it we haven’t seen him for a while.
    Yours faithfully
    The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man.

  3. All brown people have big hearts that is well known, and if they appear to not do something right, it will be an oversight, in his case probably from having oversights for numerous things which laid end on end would reach the moon.
    I think too much is being expected from this television journalist.

  4. So did the 60 workers come here originally to work and gain residency?

    It seems they have been well assisted and hard to see how they are worse off.

    • +1 – do the criminals, mentally ill, terrorists and others also get residency in NZ, too? Anything for bums on seats and more consumers of social services, justice, jails, housing, carbon emissions, all growing industries in NZ. Sarcasm.

      NZ immigration is so busy with high needs applications, highly paid and needed migrants can’t get through.

      Emails reveal residency pleas of rural GP, convicted criminals granted stay

      We have seen many 501’s get deported back to NZ, years later after somehow getting NZ residency in childhood or after being here for very short periods of time. It’s the poor choice that just keeps giving.

      Pretty sure it’s clear on temporary residency applications it’s temporary!

      Neoliberalism is profiting from this Ponzi, and has many groups championing this for their own agendas, to create social destruction (with plenty of profits from that) and continue a low wage economy here.

      Migration is quite different today that it once was. Modern migrants coming to NZ often come with little hardship and within hours can be a immigrant after a short flight.

      Didn’t use to be that way, where many migrants faced hardships and had genuine reasons to move countries.

      That is one of the biggest problems with woke thinking – that someone surviving Nazi Germany and immigrating to the US is the same as someones rich student son, migrating who is used to an easy life, and having it easy, being enabled to do the same in NZ!

      Many modern migrants can’t cope and shouldn’t be migrating in the first place.

  5. yup ‘revolutionary biscuit’ (personally I prefer the peek freans trotskyite assortment)

    we’re free to e-mail our reps but only get computer generated brush offs from PR wonks,

    yay democracy

    yay engagement

    yay accountability
    yay worrevva………

  6. The cost of obtaining New Zealand residency is a barrier to many and we get skilled workers anyway and usually the unskilled workers we get from other countries are at least of good character and have a hard work ethic. Now we have a free trade deal with the United Kingdom ahead of us too. Covid hasn’t affected us nearly as bad as Australia. New Zealand employers are recognising the need for, and the value of, increased training programs for their staff in addition to more transparent processes in general, increased health and safety guidelines, and team building initiatives. I’d say that there are good times ahead.

  7. Let’s Fix Unemployment And Housing!
    These guys came from China with the expectation that a short term work visa would let them work short term make some money and go home to China. Unfortunately, a Chinese boss ripped them off. Fortunately, Kiwis helped them out. “Unite Union took a case against NPL and Peter Li for compensation for lost wages which was settled before going to court with the workers receiving at least what they would have got under the original contracts”. It does not appear that they have been left out of pocket and they have been able to stay longer and therefore make even more money than planned. The only reason they are expecting to stay longer now is they have already stayed longer than they initially expected. They have helped with an exploitation agent prosecution but they had nothing to lose by doing so – they regained their lost income and got to stay longer in AoNZ and earn more than they would in their home country. The international union has helped them overcome exploitation which is great. Meanwhile, there are 140,000 kiwis unemployed many of whom can easily work in construction or can be trained to work in construction and who won’t put up with being exploited and allow AoNZ wages to be driven down. Plus there are thousands of homeless on the streets and families living in motels who have been pushed out of houses by short term visa holders earning wages. Seems like there will be 19 jobs and 19 bedrooms becoming available which is a good thing. Perhaps the union can recommend some of its resident kiwi members to these employers.

    • NZ has many skilled people who have been harassed out of the workforce.

      In Auckland many have construction skills, live in Northland, many are Maori, (and if helped with all the relocation bonuses and housing support migrants get), could be working construction in Auckland.

      Currently conditions have not been workable for years, competing against migrant labour who are unpaid or poorly paid, and often illegal workforce. Allowing this to become dominant in NZ construction, is stopping local people being employed and young people gaining skills. Instead gangs and meth is available for people who are no longer wanted.

      If the construction industry were organised and had construction shuttles going from Auckland to Northland each weekend, carrying workers between the locations and paid by their employers, while getting wages and conditions that make it worth it, those workers can come back to the workforce. They also need worker accomodation in Auckland that is affordable, which migrants currently get and the sort of thing they do in Australian mines.

      Under lockdown moving workers is not advisable, but something to think about in the future. There are a lot of 50+ year old skilled tradies out of the workforce, who have a lot to offer.

      One of the biggest issues for tradespeople from Northland is they do not have the money for transport back to their Whanau each weekend, and needed accomodation in Auckland (maybe look at Maraes). They were brilliant at their job, but somehow live hand to mouth, and seem to face discrimination in the construction industry, as blue collar Maori or blue-collar Pakeha.

  8. This is a big hope for most people who was here for years without no pathway to residency. So don’t try to ruin it by asking more things. Just accept and appreciate what we got, after that we can ask more.
    Just let them complete this first, then talk about those who are not eligible.
    I don’t understand why these people can’t appreciate what they already got.

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