Before the devastating earthquake in February 2011, the Immigration New Zealand Christchurch office was located on the first floor of the Crystal Plaza at 73-75 Cathedral Square.
73-75 Crystal Plaza, CBD (Immigration NZ Christchurch Office before earthquake)
About 15 years ago, when I was employed at Cavell Leitch as a solicitor, the immigration office in Christchurch was just a brief two-minute walk away. In those days, Immigration New Zealand did not accept online applications and everything had to be filed in paper, so for urgent applications, I would hand-deliver them in person.
In the aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake, Crystal Plaza sustained significant structural damage and was subsequently red-stickered, indicating it was slated for demolition. I recall from immigration announcements back then that approximately 2,000 applications were trapped within the damaged offices.
The morning after the quake, I ventured into town at the behest of a client whose passport was stuck in the immigration office; he was due to travel the next day. The city had transformed overnight. The once-bustling streets of Christchurch lay in ruin, reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic scene. It was eerily silent, devoid of life.
We didn’t encounter another soul until we reached the Christchurch Cathedral site. At that time, most of the city’s resources and rescue efforts were concentrated at the CTV site, where people remained trapped under the rubble, and rescue teams worked frantically to save them.
110 Wrights Road, Addington (Immigration NZ Christchurch Office after the earthquake)
After the February earthquake in Christchurch, Immigration NZ temporarily relocated their office to a site that, while its exact location eludes me now, distinctly felt reminiscent of a refugee camp. The makeshift nature of this interim setup underscored the challenges and urgency the city faced during its recovery efforts.
Then, Immigration New Zealand had found a more lasting address at 110 Wrights Road in Addington. This three-storey office block, which spanned 1,586m^2, was situated south-west of the city centre. Designed by Jasper van der Lingen of Sheppard & Rout Architects, the building boasted distinctive architectural features.
A particularly notable element was the wedge-shaped structure on its front facade, which housed lifts and toilets. Inside, an atrium showcased two elegantly curving white staircases. Visible from the street, these stairs cast a luminous glow on the facade during the evenings.
Additionally, the building’s strategic location offered panoramic views of the neighbouring Addington Raceway, a sight I vividly recall from the one or two times I visited the office. Back then, they often invited immigration lawyers and advisers, including myself, for updates and briefings.
161 Cashel Street, CBD (Immigration NZ Christchurch’s current office location)
As the rebuild of Christchurch progressed, concerted efforts were made to reintroduce businesses and tenants to the central city. In 2016, the Grand Central building was completed, on the old site of the Grand Chancellor Hotel. This contemporary three-storey edifice seamlessly integrates office spaces with retail outlets and cafes.
If interested, take a look at this five-minute video by Fletcher, which delves into the methods, technology, and dedication behind constructing Grand Central. Warren and Mahoney, and Aurecon were responsible for the design and engineering.
The building was primarily designed to accommodate the government agencies. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which includes Immigration New Zealand, was the anchor tenant and moved in soon after the building’s completion.
Before moving to Grand Central, Immigration New Zealand had a more open policy for direct interactions with visa applicants and their representatives. Now, the Grand Central entrance is overseen by two security officers, and entry is permitted only with a prior appointment.
Immigration NZ Christchurch Organisation Chart
The Christchurch Immigration Office recruited massively when they were given the responsibilty of processing Employer Accreditation and Accredited Employer Work Visa applications.
The roll-out of the Accreditation scheme took several years but it seems to have made good progress without major disruptions. Processing timelines have generally been satisfactory, although there are those who might contend that this is due to the dilution of the checks in place.
How to Contact INZ Christchurch Office
For the public it is difficult to contact the Immigration New Zealand Christchurch Office. They do not accept visitors any longer, and they do not publish their phone numbers/email addresses. As immigration lawyers in Christchurch, we have access to all of their contact details. So if you have a matter that needs to be expedited, or if you want to establish contact with someone at Christchurch Immigration Office, talk to us immigration lawyer in Christchurch, and we will see if we can help.