Opportunities for Samoan migrants outside Auckland: Kiwi PM

Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that while New Zealand is still a destination of choice for hopeful Samoan emigrants, she's encouraging them to look for opportunities outside its largest city. 

At a press conference in Apia on Thursday, Ms. Ardern said that a housing shortage was not a barrier to the record 16,500 Samoans who applied to settle in New Zealand last year - but the government will encourage new migrants to look to settle outside Auckland. 

“Just like any other country and government faces infrastructure challenges we are having our own and that is particularly around housing,” she said.

“We have tried to encourage those who have skills or the opportunity to come and settle in New Zealand to really look to those areas where there is less pressure on our infrastructure, and particularly housing.”

Just 1100 places are set aside for Samoans under New Zealand's Pacific Access visa category. 

In February this year, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi asked Deputy Prime Minister Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters to raise the quota.

Ms. Ardern spoke to reporters after returning to Apia a four-day trip to Tokelau - the first for any New Zealand Prime Minister in 15 years - and before her return home to New Zealand.

The Prime Minister arrived in Samoa last Saturday and held discussions with her counterpart Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi before embarking on a 24-hour sea journey to Tokelau, a non-self-governing New Zealand territory. 

She said that the pair had discussed sports, sports diplomacy and infrastructure during talks last week, but said that no decisions were made during the discussions, which opened the door for an “ongoing conversation between New Zealand and Samoa."

They also discussed Tokelau’s relationship with Samoa, the development of Tokelau’s communications infrastructure, and a potential airstrip which Samoa will play a large role in, and the future of the atoll country’s relationship to New Zealand.

Ms. Ardern said anyone with the skills or opportunity to live in New Zealand could take advantage of job opportunities and cheaper housing outside of New Zealand's three main metropolitan centres: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

“I think those who are coming into New Zealand, they know those challenges,” Ms. Ardern said.

“They will often have family who will make them aware of those challenges, and of course who do act as a form of support when it comes to accommodation but we will just continue to encourage people: there are jobs outside of Auckland, there are opportunities outside of Auckland.”

Ms. Ardern also acknowledged Samoa’s recent ratifying of the regional trade agreement P.A.C.E.R Plus, and touched on the movement of skilled labour out of Samoa to New Zealand, and the Pacific Games recent invitation of New Zealand athletes to a select number of sporting codes.

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