By TRACEY ROXBURGH
All they need now is snow.
Twenty-seven border exemptions have been granted for critical skifield workers in the Southern Lakes — with three pending — enabling skifields to open at 100% this season.
In March the Ski Areas Association of New Zealand sent an urgent plea to the government
to get 100 highly-skilled staff across the border for the 2021 season, or face having to operate at either 50%, or for only half the season.
NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson says exemptions have just come in for 10 snowsports
instructors, primarily inbound from North America, to go through MIQ, but they’re still working on three groomer operators.
‘‘It’s a bit of a work in progress, that one.
‘‘We’ll be pushing pretty hard with senior officials at Immigration New Zealand in the next
Anderson’s stoked the government, and INZ, listened to the industry — and that the industry’s been able to work together for the greater good and is taking responsibility for ensuring there are training pathways for Kiwis.
The snowsports instructors are all Level 3, Level 4 and examiners, allowing NZSki to run its rookie programmes and bring NZers through as Level 1 instructors.
‘‘We’ve got training pathways for rookies to come through, but like the snowsports instructors, the very best groomer operators in the world … stay in winter — they go from northern to southern hemisphere in winter.
‘‘We’ve just got to make sure INZ understand that to get those high-level skills, that’s what you need to do.’’
Cardrona and Treble Cone boss Bridget Legnavsky says they’ve got exemptions for 14 snowsports instructors — the first had their visa approved yesterday — and three groomer drivers.
‘‘So we have actually finally succeeded, [it’s] exactly what we needed and we’re pretty happy about that.’’
She, too, says they’d love to have a ‘‘fundamental NZ work force’’, but there’ll always be an expert element that needs to come in from overseas.
While, initially, the ski areas thought, across the country, they’d need to bring in 100 people, Legnavsky says the total’s probably half that.
‘‘The reality is it’s going to cost us a lot to bring these people in, so we’ve had to have a really good think about return on that people investment.
‘‘We have been as efficient as we can.
‘‘We’re employing as many Kiwis as we can, who aren’t necessarily as skilled, and we’re going to have to put on more training, which is exactly what we said we would do.’’
Inundated by CVs
The labour shortage doesn’t seem to be hitting the skifields this year.
While many others in the Whakatipu, and beyond, are crying out for staff, both Legnavsky and Anderson say they’ve been inundated with CVs from Kiwis this year, many of whom would’ve ordinarily been looking to shimmy off on an OE.
Anderson says he’s also been flooded with applications from Aussies wanting to work for NZSki at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables or Mt Hutt.
‘‘The day the bubble opened there were about 400 applications come in from Australia.
‘‘They’re sitting there, waiting, and they’re keen to get over here.’’
It’s been the same for Treble Cone and Cardrona, but Legnavsky says they’re still struggling to find chefs.
NZSki’s looking to get Mt Hutt up and running on June 11 and Cardies is scheduled to open the next day.
Coronet Peak, at this stage, will open on June 19, followed by The Remark ables and TC on June 26.
Of Coronet, Anderson says ‘‘watch that space … if there’s snow on the hills, we’ll get it open earlier’’.