NZ FAQ Series: Employment

Learn all you need to know about being an employee in New Zealand.

Annual National Holidays

Each year New Zealand has 10 national holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)

  • Day after New Year’s Day (2 January)

  • Waitangi Day (6 February)

  • Good Friday (varies)

  • Easter Monday (varies)

  • ANZAC Day (25 April)

  • Queen’s Birthday (first Monday in June)

  • Labour Day (fourth Monday in October)

  • Christmas (25 December)

  • Boxing Day (26 December)

There is also an annual anniversary day observed – the date being dependent on where you live in New Zealand.

Silhouettes of People Holding Flag of New Zealand

Income Tax

All employees are expected to pay income tax and how much you pay depends on your salary. Rates vary from 10.5 cents of every dollar for someone earning up to $14,000 to 33 cents of every dollar for those earning $70,001 and over. You will need to set up an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number to pay your income tax. You can only apply for an IRD number once you are in New Zealand.


KiwiSaver is a government initiative to encourage people to save for their retirement.
You can choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your annual salary to KiwiSaver (deductions made from your salary each pay day.

In addition your employer will contribute 3% of your annual salary. You are eligible to get your money paid out when you are eligible to receive a pension (age 65). 

You may be eligible for an early pay out if you are buying your first home, relocating overseas permanently, and suffering significant financial hardship or are seriously ill.


NZ FAQ employment 2.jpg

All employees are entitled to 4 weeks paid holiday leave (20 days) and 5 days paid sick leave per year after 12 months of continuous employment. Five paid days of sick leave per year is available to employees so they can care for themselves or their dependants. You may also be entitled to bereavement and maternity/paternity leave. See Employment New Zealand for more information.


The median annual salary for a construction worker in New Zealand can range from $37k - $135k NZD*. Most employees are expected to work 40 hours per week. New Zealand has a strong work / life balance and very few people work weekends. See Trade Me Jobs' full salary guide featuring all employment categories here



*Salary figures correct as of October 2nd 2017 on www.trademe.co.nz/jobs/salary-guide


NZ FAQ Series: Sports and Recreation

Kiwis are renowned for their love of sport, and the country’s magnificent landscapes provide a perfect setting for a range of both adrenaline fuelled and more contemplative recreational activities.

New Zealanders are both enthusiastic participants and spectators when it comes to sport. As might be expected given its history, most of the major sporting codes in New Zealand are of British origin. Golf, netball, tennis and cricket are the four top participatory sports. Soccer is the most popular among young people and rugby union attracts the most spectators.


Cricket is played in backyards, beaches and, more formally, ovals throughout New Zealand during the summer months. While it doesn’t quite generate the passion rugby does, it has the fourth- highest participation rate and is widely watched, especially when the national team (the Black Caps) is playing.


Netball is by far the most popular sport for Kiwi women, both in terms of participation and public interest. The national team (the Silver Ferns) has enjoyed considerable success on the world stage.

Rugby union/Rugby league

Rugby union is not so much New Zealand’s national sport as its national religion, though it’s more watched than played.

Rugby is the fifth-most-popular sport for men, with 11 per cent of kiwi males playing. Players from New Zealand’s Maori and Pacific Islander communities are well-represented in the national team (the All Blacks) and current or past star players, such as Jonah Lomu and Richie McCaw, are feted as national heroes. Rugby league, which spun off from rugby union about a century ago, is also played and watched by some New Zealanders.


Though it’s been a long time since a New Zealander has made the final rounds at Wimbledon, tennis is the second most popular sport for men and the third most popular for women.


While people tend to think of rugby when New Zealand is mentioned, golf is the sport closest to Kiwi’s hearts, with one in four of them playing the game. Golf is the most popular participation sport for men and the second most popular (after netball) for women. There are 400 golf courses scattered throughout New Zealand, the highest per capita in the world.

Other sports

Soccer, hockey and basketball have won some converts from more traditional sports in recent decades, though they remain minority interest. Water sports, such as yachting, rowing and windsurfing, are popular and local competitors have frequently proven themselves world-beaters. In terms of Olympic sports, New Zealand has enjoyed a lot of success in middle- distance running as well as winning medals in rowing, windsurfing, yachting, equestrianism and cycling.

If you’re interested in abseiling, bungee jumping, caving, cycling, fishing, jet skiing, hang gliding, horse riding, hunting, mountain climbing, rafting, scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming or skiing, you’ll find New Zealand has plenty to offer.

To discover your eligibility of living and working in New Zealand, complete our free initial visa evaluation form today. 

NZ FAQ Series: Government

Great Britain granted New Zealand self-government in 1853 and it remains a constitutional monarchy with the British king or queen, represented locally by the Governor-General, serving as head of state.

Like many Commonwealth countries, New Zealand is a Westminster system-based parliamentary democracy, through it abolished its upper house in 1950. Since 1996, New Zealand has had a form of proportional representation called mixed member proportional (MMP), under which a voter casts two votes: one for electoral seats (including some reserved for Maoris) and the other for a political party.

There are 70 seats, seven of which are Maori electorates. Elections are held every three years and for the last eight decades New Zealand politics has been dominated by the centre-right National Party and centre- left Labour Party. The leader of the political party that wins the greatest number of seats in a general election usually becomes the Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister is the National Party’s John Key.


Parliament and the general election

A term of Parliament in New Zealand may not last more than three years. Several parliamentary processes, laws, and conventions (established practices) ensure a smooth transition and provide safeguards for democratic process when an election has been called.

You can learn more about the New Zealand parliament and the electoral process on the New Zealand Parliament website.


There are three branches of the government in New Zealand:

  1. The Legislature (i.e. the House of Representatives), which debates and votes on new laws.

  2. The Executive, which is responsible for enacting and upholding the laws established by the legislature. Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the Prime Minster, who is known as the head of government.

  3. The Judiciary. As is traditional in the Westminster model, there is a separation of powers between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary in New Zealand. The latter applies the law by hearing and deciding cases in the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the Court of Appeal, the High Court or the District Courts.


Local government and external territories:

While New Zealand has been divided into provinces since 1989, local government is organised in a two-tier system of 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities. Regional authorities concern themselves with larger-scale issues such as resource management while territorial authorities oversee building approvals, local roads, sewage and water.

While the degree of control the New Zealand government exercises in these places varies, those in the Cook Islands, as well as the islands of Niue and Tokelau enjoy New Zealand citizenship. New Zealand also lays claim to a part of Antarctica called the Ross Dependency and operates a research facility there.

NZ FAQ Series: Population

As of July 2017, the estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4.59 million. On average, one person is born in New Zealand every eight minutes and one migrant arrives every two hours.

Source: www.stats.govt.nz

Source: www.stats.govt.nz

New Zealand’s entire population could fit comfortably several times over into what most people classify as cities. In New Zealand, any area with a population upwards of 20,000 people is liable to be referred to as a city. However, if we define a city as a major urban centre housing a significant proportion of a nation’s population and large conglomeration of business enterprises and/or government departments, New Zealand has three: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.


Interesting Facts

  • While many people immigrate to New Zealand, many New Zealanders emigrate to other countries, meaning its net migration balance is quite volatile

  • Three out of every four New Zealanders live on the North Island.

  • New Zealand’s population is not projected to reach five million until the mid-2020s and six million until 2061.

  • The median age of the population is 37 years. Children (aged 0-14) make up 20% of the population, people of working age (15-64) make up 66% and those of retirement age (65+) 14%.

  • There are 97 males for every 100 females in New Zealand.

  • Maoris are estimated to account for 682,200 of the population.

(Source: Statistics New Zealand)


Social Customs

Like many parts of the New World, New Zealand makes a virtue of its egalitarianism and Kiwis take an informal approach to everything from dressing and dining to greeting others and using the English language.

Maori meeting house - Marae

As a general rule, Kiwis are friendly, polite and hospitable but may come across as reserved to those from more outgoing cultures.

There can be marked differences between the way Maoris and Pakeha (New Zealanders of European background) behave. Maoris are friendly and place great value on hospitality, but have a range of protocols about things such as howvisitors should be welcomed and farewelled.

In many respects, New Zealanders of Anglo-Celtic background remain quite British, from their obsession with discussing the weather through to their distance for self-promotion.

NZ FAQ Series Part 4 - The NZ Property Market

When migrating to New Zealand, one of the biggest you may face is where to live. Whether to rent or buy, how to buy, and where to buy - these are some of the biggest questions asked. We've teamed up with property experts Ray White who answer our questions in this month's FAQ series:

1. When I first arrive, should I rent or look to buy straight away?

New Zealand is a popular place to live, access to outdoor activities, skiing, hunting, watersports, hiking and kayaking and remote unspoiled environments make it attractive. Because it's so popular, the housing market is booming and the cost of property is on the rise, so it's a good idea to buy as soon as you can. 

That said, renting first lets you get to feel of a city, and a chance to explore the particulars of each suburb, parks, schools and social makeup. If you look to rent first, there are some important facts to know.  

  • The amount advertised or the cost of renting is usually per week not monthly. i.e $400 per week is $1600 per month.

  • Your rent normally covers rates and insurance of the home but not insurance for household contents.

  • Some locations may be charged for water usage, or if excess is used.

  • A 4 week bond is normal, character references and credit checks are also required before being accepted as a tenant.

  • Each city may vary greatly in charges for similar homes.

  • Power and phone is normally the tenants cost along with the maintenance of the garden unless noted on the tenancy agreement.

  • The home will be advertised furnished or unfurnished.

2. What is the property like in New Zealand? 

If you go for an older home in New Zealand (pre-1984) you may find they don't have much insulation, perhaps single glazed with insulation only in the walls. New building codes in place mean that all new builds have much better insulation including underfloor and an R rating in the roof space. Landlords are now also required to ensure that they improve these conditions in older homes. Most houses tend to be timber-framed, brick houses are much less common in NZ.  

In terms of location, you have the same rural vs suburb choices to make as in any country. A typical rural commute is around 1/2 hour travel time for properties outside a town.

3. When buying a property, what are the differences to the UK?

A big difference you may find is that in some areas around 50% of the homes are sold at Auction. The owner provides information packs to all interested parties prior to anyone bidding or making an offer, which includes the Title, Land Information Memorandum and any known issues that may affect the price. Disclosure is a big part of the real estate agents job so buying privately can come with more risk. You should always have your own building inspection prior to the auction, or in the body of the offer you make to the owner.

With the auction the highest bidder wins if it has met reserve, and most homes are advertised with a reserve. Occasionally there's no price on a property so you should talk to a real estate sales person or valuer to give you access to data on sales. Ray White can provide market information for each city suburb and email you all new listings

4. Do I need to have a mortgage arranged before I make an offer on a property?

Finance and Mortgages need to be pre-approved before making an offer and bidding, the biggest lender with more options is the 'Loan Market'. It's a no cost service  - contact Brent or Colin on 03 386 0311.

We recommend to our clients that they speak to a solicitor prior to signing a contract, and also ensure they've read a guide book on Sale and Purchase agreements.

5. Anything else that's different to the UK when buying a property? 

In NZ there's no gazumping. The difference here in NZ is once you have a contract you have secured the property (subject to certain aspects you would like to check within certain periods of time specified in the contract). But do be aware that if you buy through an auction, the fall of the hammer means you own the house - so doing your homework prior to bidding is essential. 

NZ FAQ Series Part 3 – What’s it like to live in New Zealand?

This broad question has many answers. Many people who have already taken the journey will tell you that New Zealand is like a home from home, similar to the UK, but different. We highlight some of the key differences that people tend to ask us about.


1.       What’s the difference between the North and the South Island?

There are a few fundamental differences between the two islands. In terms of climate the North Island, closer to the equator, boasts great weather with a subtropical climate in the Summer months. The South is home to the Southern Alps and has a smaller landmass, so has a cooler climate. The North Island has a much denser population, with three times the number of people compared to the South. Many of them live in Auckland - 33% of NZ’s total population. The North Island is generally more cosmopolitan with both Auckland and Wellington, that said Christchurch is fast becoming NZ’s city of culture with a population growing at around 2% per year. If you like the bright lights of the city, the North Island may be for you. If mountain views and whale-watching is more your scene, the South Island may suit.

2.       What is food shopping like?

This is one of the biggest differences we hear about. As per the UK there are big supermarkets, smaller convenience stores and markets, but you won’t find any of the big names you see in the UK. Supermarkets tend to be huge warehouses stocking vast quantities of groceries, to offer low prices. Fruit and Veg grows well in New Zealand, but you don’t get exports quite like in the UK so varieties on offer are mainly seasonal, which means prices can inflate when out of season. New Zealanders tend to own huge freezer chests where they can store lots of meat that they’ll get from local butchers, or fresh fish which bountiful and a core component of the NZ palette.

3.       What are the people like?

New Zealanders are in general, incredibly down to earth, with a relaxed attitude and a great outlook on life. Because of this they are very welcoming to migrants from all nations. They have a very liberal approach to life, are leaders in many environmental policies and a positive approach LGBT – they were one of the first countries in the world to legalise gay marriage in 2013. The current political party in power is the National Party which is slightly right-wing. They have a varied ethnic background from Maori to Pan-Asian, to European of all nationality types. This hot pot of culture is what makes New Zealand's diverse population so welcoming.

4.       What’s the language in New Zealand?

English is the dominant language in New Zealand, Maori is also an official language, and there are languages spoken by ethnic minorities. Kiwis do have their own lingo, for instance a ‘dag’ is a joker/comedian, ‘bro’ is a common friendly phrase for addressing people, similar to mate - as is ‘bugalug’.  A ‘chook’ is a chicken, a ‘dunny’ is a toilet, ‘fagged out’ means to be tired out, ‘hard yakka’ is hard work, ‘racked off’ is being angry or annoyed, and ‘strewth’ exists in NZ too – meaning, wow/I agree! There’s loads more Kiwi lingo here.

5.       How do people spend their time?

Because of the weather, people tend to spend a lot more time outdoors. Kids carry out sports after school and often take up outdoor hobbies. As part of Children’s schooling they are encouraged to explore the fauna and fauna and tend to develop a good environmental connection. The diverse landscape means that there’s something for everyone – beaches for relaxing, mountains for climbing or skiing, lakes for water-based activities, oceans for fishing, forests for hiking trails, rivers for rafting, and the sky for falling! There’s also many cities to visit with strong art and music cultures as well as bars and cinemas and theatres (so similar activities to the UK is possible.)

6.       Are there any other noticeable differences when you first arrive?

Many people note that the pace of life is very different, especially if you’re used to living in a city. This much more relaxed attitude is actually something you’ll need to adapt to, but it’s also what makes NZ life so enviable. If you’re moving from a city, then you’ll also notice how much space there seems to be everywhere. With a smaller population cities are built less densely, and a passion for the natural world means that everything is just that bit more spread out. The other thing you’ll notice immediately is how friendly everyone is. There tends to be a strong community feeling and the neighbours are very likely to pop over and say hello! 

NZ FAQ Series part 2 - The Basics

Every day we deal with many enquiries about working and living in New Zealand, and many people have similar questions that aren't that easy to find answers to through Google. Here's the second edition to the series, covering cost of living, wages, car, mortgage and setting up doctors & dentists.

1.       What’s the cost of living New Zealand?

There’s no straight comparison here, as you have to take into account the different lifestyle you’ll encounter in NZ. You won’t be picking your current life up and dropping it in New Zealand, there’ll be lots of changes to consider such as what you eat, how often you eat out, appliances used or how much time you spend in the pub. If wages are lower or costs are higher, you also have to factor in if it’s worth it for the new lifestyle you might enjoy there. However, to give you an idea of cost of living we have this Table of groceries to help you compare. They’re not fixed rates so subject to change, but will give you a general idea.

Milk (2L/4 pints) 3.75 1.29
Lamb Chops (1kg) 10.99 10.25
Olive Oil 11.99 6.49
Laundry Powder (1kg) 8.15 2.00
Tea Bags 5.59 4.39
Rice (1Kg) 3.49 1.69
Free Range Eggs (12) 6.89 2.79
Butter (500g) 4.99 2.99
Cheese (1Kg) 12.99 5.59
Apples (1kg Loose) 2.99 1.95
Tomatoes (1kg Loose) 2.19 0.99
Potato Chips 2.19 0.99
Total NZ$77.00 or approx £36.00 GBP £42.22 or approx NZ $90


2.       What are the wages like in New Zealand?

There is no simple answer to this one and it’s the most common question. It does completely depend on the industry, and the particular job you may apply for. The real question is will you be better off, and for that you have to take into account both cost of living in New Zealand, and also lifestyle. You also have to consider taxes – income tax rates for instance start at 10.5% and caps at 33% for those earning over $70k (£32.7k GBP). For Construction workers the median weekly salary for a 40-hour week in New Zealand is around $800 NZD (£375 a week).

3.       What’s housing like in New Zealand?

In New Zealand around half the population own their house vs those who rent. There’s a wide variation in rent paid depending on your location, but the average is between $250 and $349 a week per household. The types of dwellings that people live in are by and large houses with around 35% living in flats, however ‘housing’ is also varied. Many houses are on one level, and semi-detached housing is uncommon. The material used to build the houses is also very different which means that central heating is also uncommon. Here’s a look at different types of housing you can get in Auckland alone, from the Villa through to the Seventies home.

4.       Can I get a Mortgage in New Zealand?

In order to get a mortgage, you must be eligible to work and live in New Zealand. If you have a Residency Visa for New Zealand, you will be treated like a New Zealand citizen. If you have a work permit, there are restrictions placed on the type of property you can buy and the banks will seek additional financial comfort from you. The amount you can borrow from banks will vary from one to another, as will the deposit amount. Provided you have no significant debt, you can expect to be lent four and ½ times your gross household income. In terms of interest rates on mortgages, you can expect interest to be 6-7% if you were to fix your interest rate for 5 years. If you were to choose to have a ‘floating’ rate you would expect interest of 5.5%.

5.       Will I need to buy a car when I’m there?

There is a good and growing infrastructure for public transport in New Zealand, but many Kiwis tend to own a car, and commonly purchase second-hand vehicles. There are a wide variety of places you can buy them from including a car dealership, auction house and online. Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) can inspect a vehicle you may be considering buying to advise whether it is sound mechanically and structurally to ensure you make a good purchase. Once you have purchased a vehicle, two forms must be completed to inform the Government that the vehicle has changed ownership – a Warranty of Fitness (WoF), also known as a Certificate of Fitness (CoF), and a current vehicle licence or registration.

VTNZ can help you gain Entry Certification if you have brought over your vehicle from abroad, to ensure that it legally complies with New Zealand standards. If you intend on staying in New Zealand for more than 12 months you will need to apply for a New Zealand Driver Licence, otherwise driving with your licence obtained from another country or international driving permit, so long as they are current, will be acceptable.

6.       How do I register for Doctors and Dentists in New Zealand?

New Zealand residents, and those who hold a work visa valid for 2+ years, benefit from a government-subsidised public health system that is free or low cost. Of course, accidents and emergencies are free - just dial 111. Just like the UK, some residents opt to take out private healthcare, though most rely on the public system.

If you are in New Zealand as a non-resident, you can still use the healthcare service at a cost, but you should ensure you have medical insurance from your home country before you travel.

As a new resident, you should look to register with a GP in your area. You can find one near you on the New Zealand Medical Council Website. Your GP will go on to refer you to a medical specialist if necessary.  Dentistry is offered free to those under 18, and residents on low-incomes. For all others, oral practitioner work out of private practices, just like the UK. You can find a dentist in your area by checking here.

See Part 1 - Application

NZ FAQ Series Part 1 - Application

New Zealand Frequently Asked Question Series Part 1 – application.

Every day we deal with many enquiries about working and living in New Zealand, and many people have similar questions that aren't that easy to find answers to through Google. We feel that no question is wrong, or silly, and all are valid concerns and need to be addressed for your journey to take place. Because of this, we have created a series of frequently asked questions below for you to browse. 

1.       Why do I need to fill out information about my employment and upload my CV?

Our free evaluation form requests this information because it helps our advisers to assess your eligibility for New Zealand Visa application. Most visas depend on the skill that you are bringing to New Zealand.  We can identify if your skills are in high demand or not, thus changing our recommendation of which visa to apply for. By giving us this information up front we can make a better assessment of your chances, and let you know right at the start of the journey whether you have a good chance or not. It also means that we may refer your CV to one of our employment partners to help you get a job over in New Zealand – another avenue for Visa Application Success.

2.       How long does the whole process take?

It does depend on your skill set and the visa you’re applying through. For instance, if your skill is in high demand and there’s a job waiting for you, we can often fast-track you. Working Holiday Visas are also a quick turnaround. Speaking to one our licensed immigration advisers will provide you with the information you need on the timeframes that are applicable to you.

3.       Is it expensive to migrate?

Again it depends on the visa type, and also if you have a job offer in place. If your employer is willing to pay for your relocation, then it can be quite inexpensive to migrate! However, we recommend that you budget for having to pay for your own relocation as this is more common. Depending on the size of your family and visa type, costs can range and therefore speaking to one our licensed immigration advisers will provide you with the information you need on the costs that are applicable to you.

4.       Do I need a job before I apply for a Visa?

It is ideal if you do as it makes the Visa process more straight forward, and the chances of success are higher. That said often people find this a bit chicken and egg, to have a Visa you want a job, to get a job you need a Visa. Some candidates apply without a job in place and then find a job when out in New Zealand, but most find a job first online and then follow on with the Visa application. If your skills are sought after, an employer will likely accept that you need to apply for a Visa based on their job offer.

Starting the visa process will signal to an employer or a recruiter that you are serious about the move to New Zealand and if you are finding hard to get a job offer from outside of New Zealand you may need to consider planning a trip to New Zealand to meet up with employers and recruiters.

5.       How easy is it to get a job?

This depends entirely on your employment history and skill set. If your current occupation is on the skills shortage list and you are qualified and experienced, there should be demand in New Zealand for your skills set.

If you have a skills set our employment partners our looking for they will likely be able to set you up interviews with New Zealand employers (usually via telephone or Skype). They can also help convert your CV to New Zealand style and prepare you for your interview. For those whose industry is outside of our employment partner’s areas, then it’s simply a matter of searching and applying for jobs as you do in your own country. If your skills and experience are worth it, an employer is likely to respond – you need to show perseverance and determination.

As eluded to above, you may need to consider planning a trip to New Zealand to meet up with employers and recruiters to increase your chances of obtaining employment.

6.       At what point do I need to pay something?

We offer free evaluations and free initial assessment – either face to face or on the phone, so up to the point at which you have all the information about your eligibility and visa options, there’s nothing to pay. If you decide to proceed, and you sign our letter of engagement to state that you want us to proceed with your application, you then have to pay your initial deposit + VAT – we will confirm our fees in the free visa evaluation we complete and send to you by email. We always advise clients to get the visa process started so you are visa ready when you have a job offer in place – we will also put together an immigration strategy for you to follow – which will provide some guidance to you.

How can I find out more information before I proceed?

We expect you’ll have lots of questions and you’ll be searching the internet for the answers regularly. Other ways you can get answers is by attending one of our Seminars or Webinars – this is likely to answer all burning questions about lifestyle, money, employment, visas, moving and many questions that others ask that you may not have even thought of! The events are held quarterly in 4 locations across the country. Another method is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, we regularly post information around visas, lifestyle, economy, industry news and also just lots of good New Zealand fun to keep you up-to-date. Failing that you are always welcome to email us on info@migrationassociates.co.uk or call us on 01483 550920.