Firm has workers from all around globe

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2013

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Morning pleasantries at a Christchurch engineering firm are fast becoming a language lottery.

Aurecon has expanded its team of structural, mechanical, geo-technical, and infrastructure engineers and surveyors since the earthquakes by regularly dipping into the international worker market.

More than 100 staff have been added in the past two years, over half of them from overseas.

Twenty-seven nationalities are now represented in the firm's two city offices.

Britons make up most of the foreign legion, with 18, followed by Americans (five) and Australians (four).

The staff include a Serbian, Swede, Ugandan and Ukrainian.

Aurecon's Christchurch office manager, Murray Fletcher, said the pool of Kiwi engineers was small.

"One thing to remember is it's not just Christchurch. The earthquake has required engineering assessments throughout New Zealand, so we've had to look offshore," he said.

Most workers were recruited through word of mouth or international engineering networks, Fletcher said.

Two were United States Urban Search and Rescue members who returned after assisting with the disaster recovery.

Structural and geotechnical engineers especially were drawn to Christchurch because of the chance to work on the city's post-quake land conditions and new building technology.

"These engineers train for an event like this hoping it won't happen, and then it does happen and they're able to learn from it. Christchurch is a live laboratory in a way," Fletcher said.

The office multiculturalism was the catalyst for regular celebrations and the chance to learn about other cultures.

"The banter's pretty friendly, especially between the English and Irish," Fletcher said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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