How I got a welder job in New Zealand

Recently I have got a message from one of my blog readers: Hi Ivan, I can share our story of moving to New Zealand. We live in Auckland. I learned a lot from your blog before moving. There is nothing I can tell about myself because I have came in New Zealand on a partner visa, but my husband went through the all stages of getting work visa. He is a welder by the way. I have read about a bad experience in this field from one of your blog stories. Our story is more successful. And that was achieved without English courses or professional trainings, just by a tourist visa. My husband is Czech and we moved from Czech Republic, however the process of getting New Zealand work visa for Czech residents is almost the same as for Russian citizens.


Hi, I am pleased to share your story. I think it could be very interesting and encouraging example for other readers. May I ask you a question – why did you leave Czech Republic and why did you choose New Zealand?

My husband was in New Zealand by working holiday program, every year 1500 visas quoted for Czech, 300 quoted for Slovaks and 0 for Poles. They arrive to the country and may work where they want but they have to leave country after one year stay and they can’t come again on this visa, because it is issued one time in a lifetime. I was living in Czech Republic for seven years. I have met my husband after he returned back from New Zealand and he was telling me what an amazing country is New Zealand is, and how cool is there, and what an incredible sense of freedom you feel there, and how brightly the sun is shining there, not that in the rainy Czech Republic.

It has passed 4 years since that time so I thought it is time to forget the former but in last year he bored at work and his home country became not sweet anymore, so he said that he goes to New Zealand. I was thinking so much about this and we had so many argues because of that. I was shocked. Unlike him, I love and appreciate Czech Republic. In addition, I spent so much efforts and money to get Czech residency so it was not a good idea to pack my stuff and leave the country. Anyway I can understand him. I left Russia as soon as I graduated from my Uni and he was tired of his own country. Everyone has its own expectation about ideal life.

Could you please tell us more about the first time your husband came in New Zealand? Not everyone in Russia has heard about working holiday program. They say if we could have such a chance, almost every Russian IT guy would move in New Zealand 🙂 What kind of job was your husband doing after he came in New Zealand for a first time?

I wouldn’t call that a job. He was working with a group of Czech and Slovaks guys were working where it necessary and were harvesting kiwi fruits, apples, were building homes and doing any physical work and then they were spending all money for travelling around the country. There is now Working holiday program for Russian citizens. I came to a conclusion that Russian passport creates some problems 😀 Not so many countries allow us to visit, half of interesting programs are closed for us.

Russian passport makes some problems for you even if you hold Czech residency?

Czech residency added some problem to me when I moved to New Zealand. It was totally useless, and also, I had to request Police certificate from Czech Republic as well as from Russia, translate it and notarize.

So your husband was a seasonal laborer in New Zealand, he travelled around the country and decided to move here and settle down?

When he returned back, he was planning to go Canada by the same program but then changed his mind and decided that shiny New Zealand is better than snowy Canada. But in general yes, he travelled and worked around New Zealand and decided to move there.

How much time did he spend since he got that idea and before he started to action? And what is more important, what he actually did?

Actually, he spent just two months for this. He announced he is going resign from his job in January and collected all visa required documents in a month: got his Police certificate in a Post shop in 5 minutes, translated document copies in English (our wedding certificate, some papers from his work and welder certificates) and left Czech Republic on 13 of March. He was going to leave earlier but there was no tickets available.

He entered New Zealand as a tourist (Czech residents don’t have to apply for 3 month tourist visa). He was willing to stay in Tauranga, but changed his mind later. All the plan He had was that he was going from one firm to another, handing out his CV and asking whether they need stainless steel welders.

As result, one company in Tauranga and another company owner from Auckland were interested in him. My husband chose Auckland, got a job offer and started applying for work visa. As I can see from a story of welder you posted some time ago, I can say that man didn’t put enough efforts. My husband had walked around 100 companies (recently we tried to count for them and I think there might be even more), looking for a job in this way for at least a month. He got his work visa approved in June and then I applied for a partner visa.

I think the problem of that guy was the fact that he believed everyone should help him to find a job. Probably he was a bit lazy and didn’t want to adapt. And finally he didn’t get a job offer and had do leave New Zealand. I was critisied for that story publicly and secretely by English scool agents.

I’m not surprised. But I think this story should exists. I think that people are too self-confident.

For sure! Everyone knows it is so easy to find a job in New Zealand. All these success stories tell you that some guy arrived to study English and found his job on the third day. The most importang keypoint is enrolling on that classes, LOL.

My husband was initially against English courses. He was sure it’s just waste of money. And it was a waste of money in his case. By the way his English is not very good, his level is around pre-intermediate. When I was looking for the information about visas I learned it is a good business for English schools and for immigration advisers as well.

Bingo. Anyway, forget about them 🙂 May be your husband can tell us some interesting keypoints about looking for a welder job? What hiring is look like in this field? Same stages? seek.co.nz, CVs, cover letters, interviews, technical assignments/tests?

He wasn’t looking for a job over the internet. He was visiting companies doing some stainless steel work. As he learned later, there was no sense in visiting big companies because first thing they wanted was filing the form and one of the qustions in that form was “Are you eligible to work in New Zealand?” One of the company asked him to calculate something but he didn’t understood what he was asked for due to his poor English. Small companies and especially the owners were happy to speak with him. For example, the owner of company where he works now asked him to show what he can as a welder. And straight after this he gave him a job offer in the same day without hesitation.

So, he visited around 100 companies in total and got two job offers in what time?
I think he spent just three weeks looking for a job in Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. Actually he spent three weeks in Tauranga and Hamilton and then find a job on his first day in Auckland. Straight after he got a job offer he had the most funniest time, collecting the documents! It looks like that his employer did not understand the seriousness of the whole situation and didn’t post job advertisement in time on labour exchange and trade.me website so getting work visa took at least one month. During three weeks this job add was advirtising on the internet they got just one (!) candidate who applied for this but he wasn’t suitable. There was nothing specific in the qualification or skills required and company owner was keen to hire at least two more people but there wasn’t any. We were surprised by this as well because it is hard to believe this may happen in Auckland – so many peopole are living here.. My husband applied for this job on third week since it was published and during the time when he was waiting he passed a medical examination and underwent chest X-ray. He didn’t have to re-enter the country. The only advantage he had as Czech citizen was in fact he could apply for this visa and get it online without sending his passport to immigration services. Russian citizens don’t have this opportunity but as I know, rules are constantly changed and improved. The website he use to apply for work visa is not realy convinient. He got his online visa approved in nine days, but we didn’t actually realise that until we found it between 15 different documents attached to the email. Basically it is just A4 document which he printed and put in his pocket. 🙂
Why do you think is hard to find a job in another New Zealand towns?

I think there are less oportunities there. Recently we were driving some street in Auckland and I counted for at least 15 companies working with stainless steel in a raw. In Tauranga, I believe there are just 30 of them.

Well.. All job is in Auckland. The advantage and a scourge of the city.

Well noticed. After reading all these stories I realised my spose is a lucky guy.

May be he can give some other advice to blog readers?

I think, most important advice is there is no hope someone is waiting for you. Be persistent and do how my husband did, like: let me show you what I can do as a welder.

Was your husband in doubt at some point about the chances of getting job offer?

He was in doubt. Moreover he was desperate when he realised it wasn’t as easy as he expected. Actually that was the reason why he moved in Auckland despite the fact he didn’t want to go there originally. I think when you have visited around 100 firms and all of them refused to hire you it is quite hard to motivate yourself to keep going.

That’s true. Did you husband change his expectation about the country during job searches? I think coming in New Zealand on a working holiday visa and coming another time to get a job when you are not eligible to work in the country is totally different.

I think nothing changed. He likes his job and he is happy about his salary. He didn’t expect I don’t like New Zealand. But actually I was telling that before moving here. The family must be very strong, we have proven this many times.

By the way, may I ask you a question about the salary, if it is not a secret? What salaries fork you may expect depending on your experience?

As I understood, entry level for a full-time foreign employees is about $20 per hour. Locals earn $40-60 per hour but they work as contractors. My husband earns slightly more then $30 per hour and he is pretty much happy about that because he was expecting a lower salary.

Can you tell us about the work itself, about stuff members, daily schedule, corporate culture etc?

The company my husband is working for is a small company with a few stuff members: an owner, my husband, accounter, couple of contractors, two students who are drawing drafts and one young assistant. As I said it is small company so they do everything: buying steel, preparing materials, welding, etc. Recently they even concreted a floor. So it is not necessarily related with welding. Now they got a big and long term project – they are replacing pipes and tanks at wine factory. At the moment they are making stainless steel steps and handrails. Working hours are from 7AM to 3.30PM, and often up to 4 or 5PM. Sometimes they just can’t leave until they finish the job, like it was when they were working with concrete.

I’ve just remembered one thing.. You have to have your own tool box. My husband spend $2500 to buy these.

Do you need your own welding machine?

No, usually your employer provides you with welding machine but my husband plans to buy a simple version in the future.

What are the future plans? In terms of career and a life.

All my plans was related to Czech Republic and now I’m so shoked so I don’t have any plans yet. First of all, I have to find some work. My husband permitted to work for his employer only. And he wants to become a New Zealand resident. So we will try to get residency first and then will start to plan something more serious.

Good luck to both of you! No matter, what the occasion is 🙂

Thanks, Ivan. And thank you for your blog. I learned a lot from there in very accessible and interesting way.

Stay tuned. Get post excerpts, news and other perks not included in RSS, Feedly or somewhere else.

Join 224 other followers and receive monthly newsletter

Ivan Grigoryev's Blog
Living in New Zealand. Blogging about the country, beautiful places, everyday life.
Do a skydive - halfway completed; get 1400 - still working on; reach 300kph - completed by 96.6%