South African Engineers can help rebuild New Zealand after Cyclone Gabrielle

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With unemployment at 3.4%, record infrastructure investment, and urgent rebuild after Cyclone Gabrielle, New Zealand is facing acute skills shortages of Civil Engineers, Construction Professionals, and Surveyors. At ConsultANZ, we are embarking on an international recruitment campaign to bring top international talent to New Zealand. If you are a South African Engineer considering starting a new life in NZ, read on!

February 2023 will be remembered as the month that New Zealand experienced one of its worst weather disasters  

On 13-14 February 2023, Cyclone Gabrielle caused historic extreme rainfall and river flooding, catastrophic wind damage, and substantial storm surges across the North Island. Unfortunately, this culminated in widespread destruction and loss of life, with a long and costly recovery ahead. 

Parts of the North Island received at least 400% of their normal February rainfall. The Auckland region received over 5.5 times its normal summer rainfall. It was the wettest summer on record for several major centres, including Napier, Auckland, Whangārei, Gisborne, and Tauranga, and the 5th driest summer on record for the South Island. 

Just a couple of weeks before this weather event took place, Auckland and the upper North Island experienced flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall known as the Auckland Anniversary Floods.

Rebuilding transport connections in New Zealand will cost at least NZD $10 billion

The New Zealand government expects the recent weather events will come with a bill of more than NZD $10 billion.

Many of North Island’s locations including Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, and Hawke’s Bay regions are facing a significant period of recovery and rebuild following extensive damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, the Auckland Anniversary floods (in January 2023) and ex-Cyclone Hale.

Five key roads across the North Island have been severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. The five roads are:

  • SH1 Auckland to Northland
  • SH25A Kōpu-Hikuai access to the Coromandel
  • SH2 Hastings to Gisborne
  • SH5 Napier to Taupō
  • SH35 around the East Cape from Ōpōtiki to Gisborne

State Highway 25A between Kōpū and Hikuai suffered significant damage with the road collapsing. The slip is approximately 110 metres wide and the road is closed indefinitely while investigations are underway to determine a long-term solution for this highway (Source: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency).

Photo: A section of State Highway 25A collapsed due to heavy rain in Coromandel, New Zealand, Jan. 30, 2023. Source: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency)

Hawke’s Bay cyclone recovery

State highways in Hawke’s Bay were significantly affected during Cyclone Gabrielle leaving damaged bridges and culverts and burying roads. State Highway 2 between Wairoa and Bay View sustained a lot of damage in the cyclone; the Waikare River Bridge was lost at Putorino and there was significant damage at Devil’s Elbow. State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō was also significantly impacted, with a bridge damaged between Bay View and Glengarry, and a large underslip south of Te Pōhue (Source: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency).

While the New Zealand Government has responded quickly to restore lifeline routes after Cyclone Gabrielle, the sheer scale and complexity of the damage mean the rebuild phase will take time.

Across the country, fourteen state highways – amounting to 1346 kilometres – were damaged during the cyclone. Bailey bridges are currently being used as a temporary fix to reconnect parts of the North Island.

“Once we’re confident all communities are reconnected, and lifeline routes are open, we’ll move onto the next stage of the rebuild. This stage will focus on getting more permanent solutions for affected areas. Waka Kotahi is still undergoing assessments and planning to work out what those solutions could look like and at what cost, but it’s too soon to say” said Transport Minister Michael Wood.

How your engineering skills can help New Zealand

In 2020, the New Zealand Government announced a $15 billion surge of infrastructure projects through the New Zealand Upgrade programme, with special emphasis on roading and transport, hospitals and schools. This is in addition to already unprecedented infrastructure investment. An estimated $129 billion is expected to be spent on capital projects between 2019 and 2029!

However, New Zealand is struggling with a lack of skilled workforce and the latest weather events have further increased the huge demand for civil engineering and construction talent. To help New Zealand with the rebuild, we are now actively recruiting the following professionals:

  • Site Engineers
  • Project Engineers
  • Senior Project Engineers
  • Project Managers
  • Engineers with Structures experience – all levels!
  • Engineers with roading experience
  • Engineers with drainage experience
  • Foreman and Supervisors
  • Civil Estimators
  • P6 Planners
  • Project Managers (Project Controls)

The majority of work will be piling, concrete work on bridges, marine works including wharves and breakwaters as well as roading projects.

If your profession is on the above list and you have relevant experience, we have a wide range of job opportunities with some of the biggest civil engineering and construction companies in NZ. We strongly encourage you to register your interest by sending your CV to [email protected]

Visa options for South African Engineers

Many engineering roles are currently on Immigration New Zealand’s fast-tracked Residency Green list. You can also read more about visa types on our website.

The Government has recently announced the launch of a new visa to facilitate the availability of specialist migrant workers to help in the recovery efforts following Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent weather events in the North Island.

The Recovery Visa (a Specific Purpose Work Visa), will allow employers to sponsor migrants to come to New Zealand for a specific event or purpose, including working on an emergency response.

With enormous time and workload pressure, many companies will be investing heavily in the overseas recruitment of engineering and construction professionals over the coming months offering visa sponsorships and generous relocation packages for selected Candidates.

Would you like to know more about living and working in New Zealand?

We understand that moving to a new country is not an easy decision to make, especially if you have a family. After all, you are leaving everything that is familiar and starting over in a new place. To help you navigate these challenges, we have created an extensive guide to New Zealand which includes important information such as:

  • Moving and Shipping
  • Renting a property
  • Healthcare system
  • Education
  • Cost of living
  • Transport
  • Getting your qualifications recognized
  • Tax system and more!

Our experience in placing South African Engineers in New Zealand

Established in 2012, ConsultANZ is a family-owned business and a niche supplier of temporary, contract and permanent engineering and associated staffing solutions to the engineering and construction industry. Over the last decade, we have placed many South African Engineers and Construction Professionals on a variety of projects in both Australia and New Zealand.

We partner with the biggest names in the industry and we work closely with Registered Migration Agents to help you and your family secure the best available jobs and visas. Apply now! Send your CV in Word format to [email protected]


Source: New Zealand Government

Source: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Source: Immigration New Zealand

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