Pacific Legal succeeds with critical Worker Applications for $50 million Te Arai Golf Course project: Welcomes Changes for Employers

Over the past five months, when most employers were unable to get highly skilled staff into New Zealand, Pacific Legal has had the pleasure of achieving successful visa outcomes for the new Te Arai Links golf course development.

The project

This is an exciting new development adjacent to world-class the Tara Iti golf course by American Investor Ric Kayne. This $50 million project has been developed in partnership with local Iwi and other key stakeholders. It has the strong support of New Zealand Golf, Golf Tourism, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), and other key stakeholders. It is part of a $400 million per year elite golf strategy, which will make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economic recovery post Covid-19. Such facilities attract high net worth individuals and tournaments.

The two new courses are designed by renowned international golf course designer Tom Doak. Significant investment and employment opportunities for Auckland and Northland are at stake both in the development of the courses and their ongoing operation.

The people

The key to unlocking the project was getting a small team of designers and golf shapers (construction “artists” with years of international experience) to New Zealand to commence work by October 2020 to meet deadlines. These skills are simply not available in New Zealand.

The process

Our work commenced in early May. The border had been locked down since March with over 80% of border exception requests refused. Requests could be made for workers with unique skills, which were unavailable in New Zealand and projects which would bring significant economic benefits.

The process required approval from multiple portfolio ministers including Economic Development, Sports and Recreation and Immigration. Pacific Legal Limited was initially dealing with a wide range of other officials. By July the process was devolved to Immigration New Zealand.

The outcome

On 29 July an invitation to apply was issued to 11 workers and their dependents. Individual applications then followed. All workers had arrived in New Zealand in time for the essential October start date. Allowing 14 days isolation was another challenge. Tara Iti made an excellent proposal for verified on site isolation but to date Government has not acceded to any such requests.

Richard Small, Director at Pacific legal were able to draw on past experience of assisting golf related professionals and other investment type visas. However, the requirements of the critical worker visa were a step above all previous visa applications.

The quality of evidence provided by the project management was very robust and allowed us to show a clear economic benefit to “NZ Inc.” We are grateful to the Tara Iti-Te Arai Links project team for their confidence in our services and pleased at the result achieved,” said Richard Small.

Pacific Legal was subsequently engaged by another major golf course and was able to repeat the success by focusing on the uniqueness of the skills and the importance of the economic opportunity.

Change should help some others in the future

On 28 September 2020 critical worker criteria were amended to; unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are not readily obtainable in New Zealand. That is a step down from “not obtainable” but it is still a very challenging category.

Contact us

There is talk of a 10% quota for highly skilled workers and investors within quarantine facilities. Pacific legal is very well-placed to assist employers with highly skilled staff who may be able to unlock time-critical projects. Contact us at, by phone at +64 9 666 0440 or through our website for more details.