Permanent and long-term migration into Tauranga continues to rise, with more than 2500 people arriving in the city last year from countries around the world.

But many of those newcomers are finding it hard to break into the job market and organisations in Tauranga are doing what they can to help.

There were 2594 arrivals in Tauranga in 2017, according to the latest permanent and long-term migration data released by Statistics NZ.

That is 193 more people than the year before and 351 more than in 2015.


Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said the organisation was seeing many migrants arriving in Tauranga looking for opportunities for themselves and their families.

"Many would prefer traditional jobs, but find that it can be difficult to break into Tauranga's tight job market – particularly if they don't have specific skills."

He said there were also entrepreneurial people arriving in Tauranga who were prepared to carve out a new niche for themselves or buy into an established business.

"One thing about migrants, they are highly motivated and willing to look at anything."

The Chamber of Commerce has run two New Kiwi Career Success courses designed to prepare migrants for the New Zealand job market and show them what works and what does not in the local business environment.

So far the courses have attracted about 20 people all up and there is another one planned this month. In some cases introductions have been made to local businesses.

"Sometimes there can be a big disconnect between a migrant's initial expectations and approach, and the peculiarities of the Tauranga job market," Gregec said.

President of Multicultural Tauranga, Ann Kerewaro, said migration into the city was "steady" and for new migrants, finding work and housing could be a major struggle.

Her organisation held a professional speaking course for migrants last year that was well attended.

"They do seem to find difficulty getting work and that was one of the things from our course – trying to improve their English and confidence."

Struggling to find somewhere to live was also a common conversation topic at migrant coffee mornings, Kerewaro said.

She said new migrants securing a job often came down to acceptance by employers but being able to speak good English was vital.

"If they don't, it's very difficult to employ them. I think that is a major blockage in their way of getting good employment. They might have all the qualifications needed, but if they can't speak English properly, it's just too difficult."

Meanwhile, permanent and long-term migration into the Western Bay in 2017 (719 people) dropped by 26 people year-on-year, but was still 31 more than in 2015.

In the entire Bay of Plenty region, there were 5428 arrivals last year – 47 more than in 2016 and 385 more than 2015.

The Tauranga City Council said as the city continues to grow, it will see an increase in the number of migrants wanting to call it home.

To assist with their transition, the council is taking part in a pilot programme launched by Immigration New Zealand called Welcoming Communities.

Tauranga's mayor Greg Brownless said the programme would give the council the framework to directly address some of the issues and misunderstandings around integration and cultural bias.

He said international activity including trade, investment, tourism, skilled migrants and education played a critical role in the economic success of the sub-region.

"Through the Welcoming Communities programme, we can build on our communities' capacity to embrace diversity, and value the contribution of our newcomers."

Western Bay of Plenty District Council is also taking part in the programme.

Cambodian co-workers have big dreams for future in Tauranga

Lin Keo moved to New Zealand from Cambodia as a single mum 7.5 years ago.

The 36-year-old from Phnom Penh was in Auckland for a year before visiting Tauranga and deciding it was where she wanted to settle with her son, now aged 8.

"I can live here, I can grow from here, I can build a family here and Tauranga is great for family, great for having kids."

Keo, who lives in Otumoetai, said the move was a long and draining process that required a lot of documentation. She said it costs thousands of dollars and people often arrive here empty-handed.

The stress and pressure to find work and accommodation then piles up.

"It was hard at first but people here are very lovely and genuinely help other people. I found it's really helpful when you just reach out and ask for help."

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Cambodian immigrant Lin Keo has successfully settled into Tauranga and has big dreams for her future here.

Keo urged any new struggling migrants to keep looking, keep positive and ask for help when needed.

"When we moved here, we didn't eat because I didn't reach out and then I learned that to reach out doesn't mean you beg for anything, you just need some help."

She said she received help finding her first job, finding a school for her son and settling in.

She started as a dishwasher in a cafe and now is a fulltime cafe manager.

One of the cafes Keo worked at in Tauranga sent her on a hospitality and barista course and she dreams of one day owning her own cafe here.

"I've been working towards it for the last seven years."

She is returning to Cambodia in April for the first time – a two week holiday she had to save hard for, working six or seven days a week to make it happen.

"I'm sure the race will be worth it at the end of the line."

One of Keo's co-workers at the cafe, Sonita Rakoia, also migrated to Tauranga from Cambodia.

The 36-year-old from Siem Reap arrived five years ago with her husband and two daughters, now aged 8 and 10.

They live in Bethlehem with her husband's parents, who were already here.

Rakoia said she and her husband were looking for better schooling and education for their children.

She said it was difficult finding work when they first moved to Tauranga because her English was not good.

But she eventually secured a job at a bakery, worked there for three years, and recently started at the cafe.

"I love that I have got to know a lot of people – they are so friendly and helpful," Rakoia said of her time so far in New Zealand.

She said she had made a lot of new friends and her English was improving quickly as she spoke it all day at her job.

Rakoia's dream is to own a coffee shop or Cambodian restaurant – a current gap in the hospitality market in Tauranga, she said.

"I'm dreaming, planning. Maybe in the next five years."

By the numbers

Permanent and long-term migration: Arrivals (all countries of residence/all citizenships)

Tauranga City
2017 – 2594
2016 – 2401
2015 – 2243
Western Bay of Plenty
2017 – 719
2016 – 745
2015 – 688
Bay of Plenty
2017 – 5428
2016 – 5381
2015 – 5043
Source: Statistics NZ

Tauranga citizenship ceremonies

•For the past three years the Tauranga City Council has held citizenship ceremonies once a month from February to December, with two additional ceremonies per year (13 ceremonies per year total).
•Each ceremony has 60 applicants invited.
•Application for citizenship is made through the Department of Internal Affairs in Wellington and invitations to citizenship ceremonies are sent from the Department of Internal Affairs.
Source: Tauranga City Council