NZers missing out on plum film industry jobs - Labour

By Hayden Donnell

Weta Digital needs 369 highly skilled overseas film workers for projects such as The Hobbit. Photo / supplied
Weta Digital needs 369 highly skilled overseas film workers for projects such as The Hobbit. Photo / supplied

An application by Oscar-winning effects company Weta Digital to bring in hundreds of foreign workers proves New Zealanders are missing out on plum film industry jobs, Labour says.

A document leaked to Labour Party spokeswoman for labour issues Darien Fenton reveals Weta has applied for Immigration Department permission to employ 369 highly skilled overseas film workers in 2012.

The jobs it wants to import include 30 in animation, 30 in model production, 70 in compositing images and 22 in camera operations.

Nearly all of the jobs listed require between three and five years' experience in feature film production.

Ms Fenton said the application shows the failure of a new film industry labour law negotiated by Government and Warner Brother executives.

The law, which makes film workers independent contractors by default, has not protected Kiwi jobs and skills, she said.

"If there's jobs created from the special deals we've done, then New Zealanders should be lined up to do them.

"While we all celebrate the success of our film industry, it would be so much better if we were also able to celebrate the growth of home-grown, highly-skilled technical jobs as well.

"We want to see Kiwi camera operators, Kiwi software developers, Kiwi technicians, not just Kiwi 'extras'."

Ms Fenton said Government should invest more in training highly skilled New Zealand film workers to ensure companies like Weta did not have to look overseas for expertise.

"These are the kind of highly skilled, well-paying jobs that our economy needs, and we owe it to New Zealanders to do everything we can to ensure they have the first opportunity to take up these roles."

A Weta Digital spokeswoman said the company was not issuing a response to Ms Fenton's statements.

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