Immigration Waitaki consultant Jojan McLeod. PHOTO: OAMARU MAIL FILES

Rural sector employees who have arrived from overseas can gain free information on visa and immigration issues next month.

An Immigrant Advisory Workshop is being held at the Waimate Event Centre on March 7, from 6pm to 9pm.

The venture has been organised by Aoraki Migrant Centre manager Rosie Knoppel. A similar event took place last year during the daytime, which meant many people could not attend because of their work commitments.

The evening schedule has been chosen in response to community demand, she said.

The aim was to help all migrants, including those who were working in the dairy industry on both sides of the Waitaki River.

“It is really to get that better understanding of that new immigration policy,” Mrs Knoppel said.

“The policy is continuously changing and it’s hard for migrants, sometimes, to keep up with all the changes.”

Among recent alterations was an increase in the minimum hourly pay rate for someone defined as a skilled worker. From January 15 it rose by 68c an hour to $20.65.

Waitaki Immigration consultant Jojan McLeod would be at the workshop to outline the regulations and answer questions.

Mrs McLeod, who set up her business a year ago, understands the challenges of shifting to the other side of the world. She left the Netherlands at the age of 21 to travel for a year, but liked New Zealand so much she stayed and married a local man.

She has a Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice.

“There’s a lot of unclarity about the South Island Contribution Visa,” Mrs McLeod said.

“I can clarify the what the rules are, and what options people have got if they don’t qualify for it.”

There were “pitfalls” in applying for visas, which often caused difficulties for immigrant workers, she said. She could alert people to those and offer advice on how to overcome them.

The workshop would be relevant for employers of migrant workers as well as for the immigrants themselves, Mrs McLeod said.

She was providing information for free as a volunteer for the Waitaki Multicultural Council.

Mrs Knoppel said the workshop would also present information on services and opportunities available to newcomers in the Waitaki, Waimate, and Timaru districts.

Anyone wanting to attend should book a seat by phoning the Aoraki Migrant Centre on 03 687-7371 or 0210 837-7717 or emailing

The Waimate Event Centre is located at 15 Paul St, Waimate. The workshop is in Meeting Room 1.

– Additional reporting by Alexia Johnston

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