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Entertainment industry about 12% of worker border exemptions

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Almost one in eight foreign workers who have been cleared into New Zealand since last June have been on cast and crew in films, television and shows.

The 848 performers and crew who met critical worker criteria included a Queen Tribute Band, The Lion King Stage Show and The Wiggles. They were among the 7,000 non-New Zealanders allowed to cross the border.

Critical workers included staff with unique experience and technical or specialized skills not readily available in New Zealand, or those who created a significant advantage to the economy.

The exemption criteria also included workers responsible for carrying out major infrastructure projects and government-approved events or programs.

The co-owners of the America’s Cup yachts were also among those classified as critical workers.

Prior to the category’s inception last June, the cast and crew of the Avatar sequel were among those approved by government ministers. Over 100 exemptions were for The Lord of the Rings TV series, with more for Jane Campion’s Power of the Dog, Power Rangers, Cowboy Bebop, Sweet Tooth, and Greatest Beer Run Ever.

Besides artists, sportsmen and sailors also qualified, with more than 1,000 foreigners allowed to participate in the 36th America’s Cup.

Since January, one in ten places in managed segregation has been allocated to critical workers abroad.

Immigration New Zealand told RNZ that as of April 12, 1,666 requests from other critical workers had been approved, representing 7,114 workers.

“The 848 licensed workers in the entertainment / arts / film and television industry represent only 12 percent of the total,” said Director General of Border Operations and Visa Nicola Hogg.

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