How A Tiny Kiwi Town Recruits From The Big Leagues

Kaitangata, on the South Island, is offering new residents attractively priced house and land packages in the hope of tempting city-dwellers to relocate.

The town of Kaitangata on New Zealand’s South Island has a cunning plan to attract new residents. Photograph: Supplied, Clutha District Council
The town of Kaitangata on New Zealand’s South Island has a cunning plan to attract new residents. Photograph: Supplied, Clutha District Council

A tiny New Zealand town has a unique problem – too many jobs, too many affordable houses and not enough people to fill them.

So the 800 residents of picturesque Kaitangata, in the South Island, have launched a recruitment drive to lure new residents to the town.


The scheme involves offering house and land packages in the rural community for an attractive NZ$230,000 (£122,000) in the hope that Kiwis struggling with life in big cities will be tempted to relocate.

Bryan Cadogan, mayor of the Clutha district, which includes Kaitangata, estimates there are upwards of 1,000 jobs vacant in his district and local residents are unable to meet demand.

He said: “When I was unemployed and had a family to feed, the Clutha gave me a chance, and now we want to offer that opportunity to other Kiwi families who might be struggling.

“We have got youth unemployment down to two. Not 2% – just two unemployed young people.”

The major employers in the Clutha distract are linked to primary industries – including a dairy processing plant and freezing works – and for many years they have been forced to bus in workers from the provincial hub of Dunedin, which is over an hour away.

“I despair over the way many Kiwi families are forced to live these days,” said Cadogan, who is a born and bred local.

“So many of the things Kiwis value, such as owning your own home and providing for your family, have become an impossible dream. For a lot of people in New Zealand life is just an endless slog. And that really saddens me.”

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Dairy farmer Evan Dick is a third-generation resident of Kaitangata and he is spearheading the town’s recruitment drive.

He is offering house and land packages and has the bank, lawyers and local community services on stand-by to streamline the relocation process for any blue-collar workers interested in shifting to the town.
“The housing crisis in New Zealand has made the Kiwi dream unattainable for many people, but in Kaitangata the Kiwi dream is still a reality,” said Dick.

“This is an old-fashioned community, we don’t lock our houses, we let kids run free. We have jobs, we have houses, but we don’t have people. We want to make this town vibrant again, we are waiting with open arms.”


This feature originally appeared in The Guardian.





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