Thousands of MIQ spaces allocated to secure economic recovery

Five hundred spaces per fortnight will be allocated in managed isolation facilities over the next 10 months, many for skilled and critical workers to support our economic recovery, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor say.

“The Trans-Tasman bubble has freed up more rooms, allowing us to allocate more places in managed isolation for critical workers,” Chris Hipkins said.

“It has given us flexibility to expand our engagement with the rest of the world on a targeted basis and attract skills and people needed to drive our economic recovery, while carefully managing risks of bringing in COVID-19.

“We’re now at the stage in our COVID response where fewer New Zealanders are choosing to come home, which gives us the opportunity to focus MIQ more on bringing in skills to support our economic recovery.

“We’re consistently averaging more than 10 per cent of MIQ spaces set aside for economic purposes per month, which Labour promised at the election.”

About 500 MIQs rooms will be made available for ‘large groups’ every fortnight. These include spaces for:

  • Around 300 RSE workers every month from June – with a total of 2400 arriving by March 2022
  • 300 specialised construction workers between June and October
  • 400 international students for arrival in June, out of the 1000 previously announced, for the start of semester two
  • 100 refugees every six weeks from July.

“This is great news for the construction sector and will help us deliver on our strong pipeline of critical infrastructure work that will accelerate our recovery. It gives certainty for planning projects with specialist workers from overseas, maintains construction jobs for Kiwis and will bring new knowledge to New Zealand for employers and employees.

“The Construction Sector Accord has consulted widely and it will continue to work with industry to prioritise the specific types of skills it needs.

They include civil and structural engineers, project managers and a range of specialist technical workers such as hydraulic modellers and mass transit specialists.

“We’ve also renewed border exceptions for shearers, rural mobile plant machinery operators and essential travellers to and from the Pacific. They will need to book spaces through the online Managed Isolation Allocation System.”

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the dedicated spaces in MIQ and renewed border exceptions will provide our agriculture, horticulture and viticulture sectors with the additional workforce to support our rural communities and help drive New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

“The Government and food and fibre sector have been working hard to mitigate worker shortages by training and upskilling New Zealanders, but there is still the need for additional labour.

“This decision should see around 2400 more RSE workers entering New Zealand in time for next summer’s harvest season and pruning this winter. This is in addition to the 7300 RSE workers currently in the country, including the 2000 the Government approved to support the horticulture and viticulture industries during the recent summer harvest season.

“Border class exceptions have also been agreed for 40 more shearers and 125 rural mobile plant machinery operators for the 2021/2022 season – subject to completion of sector workforce plans, a model to upskill New Zealanders and agreed wage rates.”

More spaces in MIQs for targeted groups 

Chris Hipkins said the Government is taking a number of factors into account when allocating rooms in managed isolation.

“We’re balancing seasonal and strategic skills shortages, seasonal variations of when overseas New Zealanders travel home; and our international obligations, such as providing hundreds of MIQ places for the United States Antarctic Programme over the winter months. 

“Around 20,000 vouchers will be made available in the online Managed Isolation Allocation System over the next three months for New Zealanders wanting to return home.

“New Zealand’s COVID-19 Elimination Strategy and the efforts of the team of five million have made this progress possible.

“Seeing early on that a strong health response is the best economic response has put us in an enviable global position and, as we roll out the vaccine, allows us to move into the next phase of our COVID-19 response,” Chris Hipkins said.