Philippine Ambassador calls on Head of Immigration New Zealand
In line with the Philippine Embassy’s continuing efforts to promote closer ties with New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, accompanied by Minister and Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa, called on Mr. Nigel Bickle, Head of Immigration New Zealand (INZ), and Deputy Chief Executive, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, today, 08 April 2015.
Mr. Bickle welcomed Ambassador Benavidez and stated that his visit to the Philippines with Honourable Michael Woodhouse, the Minister of Immigration, on 4-6 December 2014 was a fruitful and enlightening one. The visit included meetings with Filipino government officials with a view towards building on the Philippines-New Zealand bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of immigration and employment, as well as with Filipino workers bound for New Zealand.
Their discussions and interactions focused on the increasing numbers of and preference for skilled Filipinos in the rebuild and reconstruction of Christchurch and the dairy and health care sectors, the collaborative efforts among relevant Philippine and New Zealand government agencies and private companies for the equitable treatment, and the proper deployment and smooth entry of Filipinos to Christchurch. Ambassador Benavidez stated that the Filipino population has increased significantly in New Zealand totalling 40,350 according to the 2013 census data of Statistics New Zealand. This number is expected to grow considerably as Filipinos are preferred in the Christchurch rebuild, reconstruction, and dairy sectors. Mr. Bickle stated that he understands Filipino workers are highly valued by New Zealand employers for their skills, work ethics and ability to communicate in English and integrate themselves in the community way of life and churches throughout the country.
Ambassador Benavidez expressed appreciation for the collaborative efforts of New Zealand and the Philippines for the welfare and well-being of migrant workers in New Zealand. She also thanked Mr. Bickle for the assistance and cooperation of Immigration New Zealand and the Labour Inspectorate officials in facilitating interaction with Filipino workers and addressing their concerns and issues related to their visa status and employment rights in New Zealand.