'It's just hard' – worker shortage threatening future of some Kaikoura businesses

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A shortage of workers is threatening the future of some Kaikoura businesses as the rebuild of State Highway 1 continues in earnest following last year's earthquake.

Some owners says more financial assistance is needed as the massive roading rebuild continues.
Source: 1 NEWS

The rebuild of State Highway 1 just north of Kaikoura is New Zealand's largest ever roading challenge, and the number of workers required for the job is creating a headache for more than just construction bosses.

Thirteen hundred staff are working on the SH1 repairs, but more are needed and Kaikoura businesses are feeling the effects of their own increasing demand for employees.

"The people that work for me are a bit blinded by that. It's just hard to hold employees so my staff are moving around a bit," Kaikoura business owner Sam Baker says.

"So when staff leave I have to try and replace them quite quickly or scale my business back or worst case close."

However, Minister of Finance Steven Joyce, who was touring the quake affected region today, chose to focus on the positives for the Kaikoura work force.

"The good news is six months ago they were all worried about what staff were going to do and now we're in this situation where they haven't got enough staff," Mr Joyce said.

My Joyce was nevertheless receptive to requests from Kaikoura business owners for financial help, whose revenue is being hit hard by road closures and reduced tourism.

"Yup we're ready to do what's needed to get this job finished and get the town up and going again," Mr Joyce said.

An additional $500,000 is also coming for local paua fishers, who face years without stock due to the nearby seabed being pushed out during the quake.

"We realise that this fishery is really important for the paua fishers but we know it's going to be severely impacted for years to come," Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said.

It’s hoped the Kaikoura section of the SH1 will reopen at Christmas, and the rail line earlier than that.

Until then, the Government is encouraging anyone who wants a job in construction to head Kaikoura’s way.

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