Overseas workers are being recruited to fill Rotorua jobs which no New Zealanders are suitable for - and a business head says roles in the city are keenly desired.

Immigration New Zealand figures show 1092 workers from overseas had "essential skills" work visas approved in the wider Bay of Plenty in the year to the end of March.

The visa allowed people to work in New Zealand for up to five years if their employer had first checked if any New Zealanders were available to do the work, according to Immigration New Zealand.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said Rotorua was one of the main cities tourists wanted to visit.


"So we know that that's the mindset of the tourists who come here so I guess if you're an international person and you're looking for a job and you can get something in Rotorua, it's a fantastic lifestyle and it's a great place to live, work and play."

Mr Walsh said the chamber wasn't against overseas workers taking jobs which New Zealanders hadn't been able to fill.

"They are possibly jobs that take a required skill set that we are not able to find locally and I guess if local businesses and local employers are able to bring people in to our regions [and] employ them, it helps our population growth, it helps our economy, so we wouldn't see it as being a negative.

"Obviously, we're all about local people getting local jobs but we also understand that local people don't always have the skills required for some of these jobs."

Mr Walsh said a multi-cultural community was beneficial for a region which was largely driven by tourism.

According to Immigration New Zealand, chef was the most common profession among those who had the visas approved in the Bay of Plenty, followed by forestry worker, then dairy cattle farmer. Figures showed 133 chefs had visas approved, with many coming from South Korea, Thailand and India.

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Another 97 forestry workers had their visas approved with the majority coming from Fiji as well as 71 dairy cattle farmers, with many from India and the Philippines. Other professions approved in the year included whitewater rafting guide, jockey, paediatrician, fitness centre manager and swimming instructor.

Mr Walsh said a lot of seasonal fruit pickers were from overseas.

"Sadly, the fruit picking jobs are jobs that we just can't get locals to do a lot of the time so it easier to get them in internationally."

Immigration New Zealand figures show 1621 people arrived in the Bay of Plenty under the Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme in the financial year to May 20.

All workers approved under the scheme were employed in planting, maintaining, harvesting, or packing crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.