Nearly 500 overseas workers have been recruited to fill Hawke's Bay jobs which no New Zealand candidates were suitable for in the past year.

Immigration New Zealand figures show 462 workers from overseas had "essential skills" work visas approved in Hawke's Bay in the year to March.

The Essential Skills Work 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.

Romulo Danong arrived in Hawke's Bay to study two years ago - now he has secured work he hopes to stay.


Affordability was a priority in selecting a place to live, the Filipino man said.

Hawke's Bay was much cheaper than big cities, he said.

He came to the region to study professional accounting for a year and now works as an accountant at HSM Security in Hastings.

Mr Danong and his wife hoped to stay in the region permanently and would soon be joined by their 5-year-old daughter.

The variety of food was another attraction. There was plenty of fresh local produce, just as there was back home.

Mr Danong said the people in Hawke's Bay were happy and the place was beautiful.

There was lots of community support, it was multicultural with many Filipinos, and he was a member of community organisations.

"It's not hard to adapt when you come over here because there's support."

According to Immigration New Zealand figures, chef was the most common profession of those who had their visas granted over the year, with 65 chefs coming from as far afield as Austria, Argentina, South Korea and Turkey.

Another 27 of those arriving were retail managers from India, the United States and South Korea, and 23 were dairy cattle farmers, including many from the Philippines. Other professions of new arrivals last financial year included winemaker, speech language therapist, toolmaker, jockey and apiarist.

Over the year, 88 Filipino workers had essential skills work visas approved in Hawke's Bay.

Their professions included nurses, dairy cattle farmers, apiarists, chefs and medical laboratory technicians.

Filipino Society president Brenda Cacho-Bevin said many Filipinos came to Hawke's Bay as students.

"Once they're here they just love the place, the weather, the people. Hawke's Bay's beautiful," she said.

After the students finished their study they decided to find a job in the region and if they were successful they would stay.

Mrs Cacho-Bevin said some Filipinos came to Hawke's Bay because engineering jobs and jobs at Wattie's.

"Again it wasn't a choice for them to come. Because the jobs were available so they come and then when they experience living here and travelling around New Zealand they decide ... yes, this is a beautiful place."

She didn't think family and friends were a big drawcard for those arriving in the region.

"The first motivation of coming is a job."

She had been in New Zealand for 26 years and said there weren't many other Filipinos when she arrived. The need for nurses, farmers and workers for the Christchurch rebuild had attracted many.

Mrs Cacho-Bevin said she'd noticed a big increase in the Filipino community in the region.

There were now about 1000 Filipinos in Hawke's Bay and about 49,000 New Zealand-wide, making it one of the largest groups of immigrants in the country.

Mrs Cacho-Bevin said there were 100 million people in the Philippines and a lot of professionals couldn't find the job they wanted.

Immigration New Zealand figures show 3574 people had visa applications approved in Hawke's Bay under the Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme in the financial year to May 20.

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

The Recognised Seasonal Employer Work Policy facilitated the temporary entry of additional workers from overseas to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.