South Africans are making a unique contribution on the global construction stage. In New Zealand, they’re bringing their skills to help rebuild Canterbury, a region brought to its knees following the devastating earthquake sequence four years ago.
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Rebuilding Greater Christchurch is one of the biggest economic undertakings in New Zealand’s history.
With the help of a migrant workforce, Canterbury is slowing moving forward. So far about 200 buildings have gone up, or are in the process of construction. The city’s earthquake damaged roads, fresh water, wastewater and storm water networks are 65% complete. Good progress has also been made to repair and rebuild the 155,000 homes.
Pretoria South Africa based New Zealand Government Immigration spokesperson, Dan Smidt, said that South Africans are sought after in the R350 billion rebuild because South African tradespeople and professionals – such as quantity surveyors – bring a broad mix of skills and experience to a country that shares similar skill levels, and where South Africans are a good cultural fit.
“Interestingly, not all the South Africans who moved to Christchurch immigrated. Some moved to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime construction project, and they have been joined by scores of other nationalities from around the world,” Mr Smidt said.
South African quantity surveyor Chris Reyneke, who moved from Durban with his wife, said that his Kiwi counterparts do not always share his experience with construction contracts, and this is where he can offer additional value.
“Before the Christchurch earthquake NEC3 contracts (New Engineering Contract) were not used in New Zealand, although more common in South Africa. It may not sound like much, but in quantity surveying, this experience is a substantial and sought-after edge – even within the multinational community we have here.
“It is unquestionably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help a city destroyed by an earthquake rise from the ashes. There are cutting edge construction methods happening on almost every corner – from ‘jet grouting’ to ‘deep soil mixing’ and the so-called ‘base-isolating’ of buildings so that the building doesn’t shake during a quake (just the foundations).
“They are doing things differently here, including taking a new approach to some old problems,” Mr Reyneke said.
If you’re interested in applying your trade or professional skills to the Christchurch rebuild, visit the New Zealand Now website. It includes information about living and working in New Zealand, such as climate and lifestyle, and information on visa requirements and job prospects for your profession.