New Zealand Calls for American Construction and Engineering Help for Record Build

November 10, 2017 – New Zealand is calling out for expert help from the U.S. to fill a massive construction and engineering skills and talent shortage as it struggles to cope with the largest infrastructure and housing build in the Pacific nation’s history.

The new Labour-led Government is introducing a special “KiwiBuild” fast track visa system to facilitate the search for top construction talent, spearheaded by an innovative international recruitment campaign called LookSee Build NZ.

LookSee Build NZ is a consortium of private companies, local body entities and government organisations. The aim of the campaign is to attract some of the more than 56,000 construction and engineering staff, including 2,200 high-end specialist positions, New Zealand needs for the more than NZ$125 billion program of infrastructure works over the next decade.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also announced a new NZ$2 billion housing program for the construction of 10,000 homes a year for 10 years, as well as a program of infrastructure works in addition to the existing pipeline.

Looksee Build spokesman and construction consultant Aaron Muir says it is the first time New Zealand’s public and private construction sector have combined in a single cause but the need for top talent is so acute it required an innovative approach to talent procurement.

Engineers, particularly in the areas of geotechnical, seismic, civil and structural, are top of New Zealand’s shopping list because of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, a nationwide seismic audit of buildings and significant compliance issues with historic buildings around the country.

But a broad range of specialist skills are required across the board and the campaign is offering a sweetener to entice Americans to migrate with a range of quintessential ‘Kiwi experiences,’ such as fishing, surfing and canoeing safaris, cultural events and the chance to see stunning sites of natural beauty, Muir says.

If people do get a job as a result of LookSee Build NZ their airfares to New Zealand will be repaid, he adds.

Over the past 12 months LookSee has seen unprecedented interest from US professionals looking to relocate to New Zealand. “We had a great response earlier this year to our LookSee Wellington campaign for tech workers to come to our capital and we believe New Zealand’s work and lifestyle environment will also appeal to construction professionals,” says Muir.

Former Californian Casey Giberson, a Discipline Manager, Resilience, for environmental and engineering consultancy Tonkin + Taylor, says the attraction of New Zealand is twofold: lifestyle and the breadth and complexity of construction work.

“It’s a small country and you can come down here and really make a difference for public good and that’s a rare and precious thing,” says Giberson. “We’re not looking for over designed or over engineered infrastructure and buildings however we are looking for people who can come up with simple and ingenious ways to create a tailored solution to a complex problem – we need those skills.”

Giberson started out in California doing transportation engineering and planning and then land development and associated infrastructure. In his 11 years in New Zealand he has covered a diverse range of disciplines, including exposure to specialist technical areas which Giberson believes has future-proofed his career.

In addition to the world class construction projects across the country Muir says the ‘Kiwi experiences’ will give them a real taste of the lifestyle that is available if they choose to live in New Zealand”.

More information about the recruitment campaign can be found at

About LookSee Build NZ
LookSee Build NZ is an innovative international talent procurement program that turns the traditional recruitment process on its head by taking the opportunities in New Zealand to the world and, in turn, bringing the world back to New Zealand. It is specifically designed to address an acute skills and talent shortage in the construction and engineering sectors and future-proof the building industry as the country gears up for the largest infrastructure and housing build in the nation’s history. Acting on behalf of a range of participating employers, including public and private sector entities, the LookSee Build NZ campaign is targeting highly skilled professionals from the US, particularly seismic and structural engineers, to assist them in becoming ‘New Zealand-ready’ before match-making candidates who are interested, qualified and available with the appropriate employer.