Featured New Zealand

Kaitangata – NZ town won’t PAY you to move.

By Andrewrutherford - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The shock of the Brexit vote created an interesting backdrop in late June for a quirky news story about a New Zealand town with a bold plan to attract new residents. Various media outlets reported that Kaitangata had an excess of jobs and houses, but not enough people to fill them. The town was said to be offering affordably priced packages to entice individuals to move there. For approximately NZ$230,000 (£122,000), newcomers could secure a brand-new three-bedroom house along with some land.

“We have got youth unemployment down to two. Not two percent – just two unemployed young people,” explained Bryan Cadogan, the mayor of the Clutha district.

However, confusion ensued when some media outlets, including affiliates of Fox News and SFGate (the sister site of the San Francisco Chronicle), misinterpreted the reports and erroneously informed their audiences that Kaitangata was paying NZ$230,000 to new residents as an incentive to move there.

These misconceptions caused significant administrative headaches for Mayor Cadogan. He found himself facing a backlogged influx of communications that would take weeks to clear up. The Guardian noted that he had 5,000 unanswered messages on his phone.

“We’ve been getting smashed,” he told the newspaper. Most inquiries about relocating reportedly came from Syria, Poland, the US, and the UK, often with Brexit mentioned as a motivating factor.

Overwhelmed by the magnitude of this response, Clutha District updated its homepage with a clear message: “We are not paying people to move here.”

The full statement on their website clarified: “Unfortunately, there have been some incorrect stories in overseas media that we are paying people to move here. This is not true.”

The message continued: “We certainly were not expecting this story to go global and never intended to market it overseas, so while the international attention has been very exciting and really positive for us, we’re now overwhelmed with inquiries from around the world!”

Despite this setback, Kaitangata remains appealing as a quaint escape from political turbulence elsewhere. Those still interested in purchasing house and land packages are advised by the Clutha District Council first to check their eligibility to work in New Zealand before reaching out.

The community of just 800 residents is keen on boosting its population to fill various job openings and affordable homes by attracting city dwellers willing to relocate near the mouth of the Clutha River.

Many British citizens have cited Brexit as a reason for their interest in moving halfway around the world. The most significant amount of interest reportedly continues coming from Syria, Poland, the US, and Britain.

While the international buzz brought unexpected challenges for Kaitangata local administration, those genuinely interested might find this small town an ideal destination for starting anew amidst New Zealand’s scenic landscapes and community-oriented lifestyle.

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