As a country, NZ needs to diversify its industry. Relying on milk and timber is unwise. Its previous liability - distance - is now its asset. Some of the world's best and brightest would like to find a better place to live, a good place to raise children and enjoy life. Now, with the enabler of fibre-optic broadband, these people can move to New Zealand and still conduct business. Walk into an office building today and watch how people work. They work by wire as they flip on their computer, pick up their phone, and increasingly, run machines remotely. That is the future, not sitting on the motorway stuck in traffic.
But why would they move the NZ? Broadband will soon be everywhere, and every country with any smarts is realising it will be the great leveler. Two parts to the answer... what NZ already has and what it can build.
NZ already offers safety, rule of law, a civil society, low crime, low corruption, low pollution, a well-educated and highly diverse population, simple and fair taxation, universal medical care, ease of doing business and more. NZ is an outdoor nation with a mild climate, astonishing and diverse beauty, and good and plentiful water and food. Its people speak English and are friendly, open-minded and innovative. But that is not enough.
Examine the most attractive cities in the world, they are socially and culturally enriched. Their architecture is the backdrop for life, their creative class is supported; there is a wide variety of things happening to address the many different tastes of people. While New Zealand has made remarkable gains in transforming Wellington and central Auckland into a more socially and culturally enriched place, there are so much more that can be done. The key though is not to try to nourish public taste, but rather to enable people to create it. Provide the opportunity and the invitation and people will shape the lives they want to live.
While there is a high demand for housing in Auckland at present, the strategy for attracting buyers should be more sophisticated to achieve more goals than just filling homes.
At present, there are three major markets that are untapped: Unsafe Europe, uncertain Britain and polarised America. Rather than wait for these first-world refugees to apply (which does not necessarily mean NZ gets the people who can make the best contribution), actively seek out the businesses and talent and invite them to make the move.
It is proposed to headhunt the world. What this means is for the private sector and government to work together to identify the industries that would benefit the nation and then use the embassies and Kiwis abroad to actively recruit such businesses world wide. Make it attractive and make it easy for them to make the move. This may require a more efficient visa system than the solo-applicant system in use today. See here for more details.