On 1 August 2022, the Health Minister announced plans to set up an International Recruitment Service within Te Whatu Ora as part of a larger plan to boost the workforce for the whole health and disability system.   


On 31 October 2022, Te Whatu Ora established a nationally led, regionally coordinated, and locally delivered International Recruitment Centre (IRC).   


The purpose of the IRC is to attract and recruit highly skilled, culturally competent overseas health workers and their partners/family to help fill critical workforce shortages and deliver desirable health outcomes for Aotearoa. Initially the service has been focussed on roles that Te Whatu Ora employs directly but the intention is to expand these services to the whole publicly funded health and disability system.  


The Mental Health & Addictions (MH&A) International Recruitment Pilot will expand on the IRC model, trialing how best to match candidates for roles in both Te Whatu Ora and publicly funded service providers across the MH&A sector. 


The Mental Health & Addictions (MH&A) sector in Aotearoa has been identified as a sector with critical workforce shortages. Pre-existing national and global shortages combined with escalating service demands and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to profound difficulties around recruiting and retaining this uniquely skilled workforce.  


The IRC supports workforce initiatives to retain and grow our own workforce. It takes time to grow a workforce that is fully representative of our communities in Aotearoa and growing our Māori and Pacific health workforces is a priority for Te Whatu Ora. In the meantime, we need to recruit from overseas to ensure ongoing service delivery and to ensure there are sufficient health workers to help grow our workforce.   


Key opportunities for the Pilot include: 


  • Boosting the Mental Health & Addictions (MH&A) workforce to enable better service delivery and better health outcomes. 


  • Supporting international recruitment and retention of experienced, culturally competent MH&A health workers. 


  • Enabling visibility of MH&A vacancies across the sector to help inform workforce policy, investment, and planning. 


  • Developing and working toward a whole-of-system approach to international recruitment. 

What's happening now

We’re sharing International Recruitment Centre (IRC) information and tools, which have been developed in partnership with Te Aka Whai Ora and Immigration New Zealand. These resources will help support the hiring of experienced, culturally competent health workers from overseas by providing organisations with tailored information and guidance. 

The following information and resources are now available on the IRC webpage for all organisations, across all sectors:    

Health Immigration Service Resources 

What's happening next

We’re preparing to establish an advisory group and start engaging with the wider Mental Health & Addictions sector to help determine how to make the IRC work best for providers outside Te Whatu Ora.  

We expect a further update on the Pilot to be made in May 2023.  

To stay up to date, please check this webpage regularly. You can also contact us at and we’ll email you when we have any announcements or news regarding the Pilot.  

International Recruitment Campaign

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) processes

Nursing information and resources to support Internationally Qualified Nurses (IQNs)