Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Self-inflicted wounds

If the New Zealand government stopped pulling nonsense like this, maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't have to have so many hand-wringing sessions where Wellington bureaucrats agonise over how the economy isn't diversified enough and how there needs to be more digital uptake and how the regions are suffering.
High-profile gaming developer Dean Hall was shaking hands with the CEO of Microsoft, just as Immigration New Zealand contacted his company asking if it was financially viable.

The creator of DayZ, a zombie survival game that has sold more than 3 million copies and made more than $137.7m, had been planning a $20m gaming studio in Dunedin.
DayZ is huge.
After months of wrangling with Immigration NZ, Hall may now base that business offshore.

The department recommended he pay migrant software developers around $60,000, which he argued was way above what the industry was paying in New Zealand.
So Immigration NZ is setting salaries?
Even if Immigration NZ backtracked on its stance, it may have come too late for Hall.

"I'm still hopeful that in the future I can make my dreams of a Dunedin mecca for graduates – of all countries – come true. But I suspect without a serious change in government attitudes I'll pass."

In comparison, the United Kingdom had been proactive in trying to get his company Rocketwerks to be based in London.

"[The UK Government] is pulling out all stops to attract video game companies because of the tremendous opportunity the industry provides."
But here in NZ?
To overcome obstacles, such as chronic labour shortages, he was hoping to supplement New Zealand graduates with overseas graduates.

However, after receiving support from Work and Income, which noted the difficulty in finding local candidates, the search for international candidates reached a stumbling block when Immigration NZ rejected an application because they did not feel a job offer to one of those graduates was genuine.

Hall described the "surreal moment" when attending a Microsoft press conference following the announcement of his new project, ION.

He had just shaken hands with the Microsoft CEO when his company received an email from Immigration New Zealand asking whether his company was financially viable.

"In the end, I got so desperate I asked the bank to provide Immigration with details of all my accounts and the money available to me locally. I felt this was outrageous but by that time we had really run out of options."
So Immigration NZ is blocking a tech company's plan to bring IT workers, not to Auckland where housing is short, but to Dunedin. Read the whole thing and weep.

A relevant twitter conversation from last week:


  1. Perhaps a good reason he is not getting local employees is he thinks 60k is "way above" local rates.

  2. $60k IS above local rates for a graduate in Dunedin. However he is offering $35k which is way too low - $16.80/hr. It's unsurprising Immigration NZ don't want to import huge swathes of workers coming to a job earning a couple of bucks above minimum wage. Only one winner in that game.

  3. Only one winner... the migrants who get a better life than they otherwise could have had as evidenced by their having chosen it?

  4. To be fair to Immigration NZ their main focus is on the impact of immigration on existing citizens. If all we were interested in was the welfare of non-New Zealand citizens, we might have entirely open borders (At the present, with border restrictions across most countries, this could become problematic).

  5. I've said it before, I'll say it again. It's not Immigration NZ. It's Anti-Immigration NZ.

  6. Sounds like Immigration NZ doing their jobs preventing this guy pulling what borders on a scam. $60k is about what you'd expect to pay to get a local graduate software developer, maybe at the high end but not unreasonable. And once they've got a few years' experience it would be way higher than that.

    He's offering, quite literally, less than you'd get working the checkout at Countdown.