18 March, 2016

The National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association (NZCA) Mr Meng Foon doubts that there are many unemployed Chinese chefs in New Zealand and certainly none in Gisborne where he is mayor.

“I hear of many restaurants that are finding it very hard to find suitable chefs – particularly in the smaller towns and provinces. More and more Kiwis, as well as tourists, are enjoying Chinese cuisine throughout all of New Zealand, and therefore more qualified chefs are needed to cater for this growth – and one of the main sources of staff is obviously China.”  

Foon suggested that the quota for migrants coming into New Zealand as chefs should be lifted at a time when the local hospitality industry is crying out for more skilled staff.
His remarks were in response to comments made by the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little, who suggested further limiting the number of Chinese chefs wishing to immigrate to New Zealand, and instead seeking more locally-sourced candidates to fill vacancies.

The total special quota for the temporary entry of skilled chefs from China is currently 200 – a number set by the Labour government when they facilitated and signed a Free Trade Agreement with China. This commitment is not subject to labour market testing or subject to specified qualifications requirements, and provides entry for up to three years.

As for comments about Chinese restaurants being fronts for illegal immigration, Foon said, “The NZCA does not condone any unlawful behaviour; we need evidence that such practices are happening, and if so, then we support the full application of the law to deal with this matter.”
Foon added that most Chinese in New Zealand were extremely hard working and conscientious – especially those in the restaurant trade.  He could probably count on one hand the number of unemployed Chinese chefs in New Zealand, saying, “If we can’t find a job, then we make our own job!”

Please direct any enquiries about this media release to Mr Meng Foon, NZCA National President 0274 484084.