New Zealand town: Sorry, reports that we will pay you $165K to relocate here are wrong

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Kaitangata town leaders in New Zealand hope they can grow their badly needed work force by paying people nearly $165K to move to the small town. (Clutha District Council)

NEW ZEALAND – It sounds too good to be true, and apparently it was.

It was reported last week that, in an effort to boost the economy, the town of Kaitangata  was paying people nearly $165,000 each to move there.

The town on Saturday denied a spate of reports suggesting Kaitangata would offer sizable incentive packages to fill open jobs. The San Francisco Gate reported that Mayor Bryan Cadogan and the town’s professionals collaborated to come up with a package worth NZ$230,000 (more than $160,000) for job seekers to relocate.

“There is currently a story that has been published by overseas media that we are paying people $160,000 to move to Kaitangata and people should ring the Mayor about it. This is NOT TRUE,” a statement on the town’s website read. “People are not being paid to move to Kaitangata and you should not contact the Mayor about it.”

The Mayor’s office has issued the below announcement about the housing and land packages:

If you are genuinely interested in the house and land packages in Kaitangata, which are on sale for $230,000 or want to know more about working and living in our district, and if you live outside of New Zealand the first thing you will need to do is check out our immigration rules to find out if you’re eligible to live and work here – If you do meet the criteria and you’d like to know more about the affordable House and Land packages ON SALE in Kaitangata, you need to visit… to view the prospectus.

The town of about 800 is located on a lush, green hillside just minutes from the coastline on the South Island, but picturesque Kaitangata is in crisis – there are too many jobs.

“We have got youth unemployment down to two,” Clutha district Mayor Bryan Cadogan told The Guardian. “Not two percent — just two unemployed young people.”

The town is desperate to fill jobs in dairy processing and freezing works, two industries Kaitangata is heavily involved in. Cadogan is hoping to jumpstart the economy by filling the roughly 1,000 jobs that are now vacant.

As a temporary solution, Kaitangata has been bussing in workers from Dunedin, which lies about an hour away. He’s hoping that some of the residents struggling to afford life in larger cities will want to relocate.

The man organizing the effort is a dairy farmer named Evan Dick, who has collaborated with the local bank, lawyers and community services to streamline the moving process.

“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.”