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NZ Actors Equity responds to new Hobbit information

27th April 2012

NZ Actors Equity responds to new Hobbit information

NZ Actors Equity welcomes the release of Hobbit-related information under the Official Information Act regarding government meetings that took place in 2010.

“NZ Equity expresses its concern regarding the Government’s decision to undermine the immigration processes in place at the time. The regulations sought to ensure that New Zealanders were considered in casting and crewing the production.” said NZ Equity president, Jennifer Ward-Lealand.

Under the government’s own immigration rules, NZ Actors Equity must be consulted about the engagement of a non-New Zealander on a film or TV production. These rules seek to determine whether the production would ‘put at risk the employment of New Zealand entertainers’ and whether ‘appropriate consideration has been given to employing available New Zealand entertainers’.

“NZ Actors Equity’s approach to consultation has always been fair, reasonable and efficient. Our consultation ensures appropriate consideration has been given to employing local performers.” said Ms Ward-Lealand.

NZ Actors Equity rejects allegations, raised in the documents, that its consultation role causes delays.

“The fulfilment of our role under Immigration NZ regulations has always been within the time period allotted and has been conducted professionally and efficiently. There is not one instance where an overseas production has pulled out of shooting in New Zealand because of our consultative role” said Ms Ward-Lealand.

Equity refutes the allegation in the documents that the union was in the habit of using lists provided to it for purposes other than its consultation role under the immigration rules. “Equity strongly rejects any suggestion that we misused this confidential information,” said Ward-Lealand.

The Immigration NZ Rules were reviewed in 2011, resulting in a series of changes to be introduced next week that include the introduction of a ‘silent approval process’; an exemption on union and guild consultation on engagements less than 14 days; and the introduction of an accreditation process for employers and production companies enabling them not to consult with unions or guilds.

“The immigration process that has been in place for decades was there to ensure that New Zealand performers were provided with reasonable opportunities to work on all film and television productions. The new watered-down immigration process to be introduced next week will provide carte blanche for New Zealand taxpayer-supported productions to engage non-New Zealand performers for any and every role.”

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