For Steve Grieve, it took leaving Southland to fully appreciate just what makes it such a good place to live.
For the past four and half years Grieve has been the manager, and a part-owner, of the Speight’s Ale House at Addington, Christchurch.
During that time he commuted between Invercargill and Christchurch. That, however, is about to end.
Grieve had moved to Christchurch to help his partner and their children get financially ahead in life. Every four to six weeks he travelled to Invercargill to be with them – partner Nadia Steedman and children Maxzara, Madison and Estella.
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He’s been appointed as the manager of the Northern Tavern, starting on May 2, taking over from Edgar Potter who held the role for 25 years.
Grieve will retain his ownership in the Christchurch restaurant but said it was time for him to return home to Invercargill.
“A lot of good stuff happens in Invercargill and you don’t really realise it until you go away from it.”
He likes the outdoor leisure found in Southland, such as trips to beaches and surfing. Being able to drive from Invercargill to Queenstown and Dunedin within two and a half hours also appealed to him.
Bringing Southlanders home and attracting newbies has been viewed as vital for the province’s business sector which was struggling to fill staff vacancies at the moment.
Great Southland business and strategic projects general manager Steve Canny described the current worker shortage as the biggest single strategic issue for Southland businesses, and he added it had been for some time.
Canny said data showed, for the past two to three years, each week 700 to 1000 Southland jobs were being advertised.
Agriculture and trade-related services provided most of the job vacancies, Canny said, followed by transportation logistics and healthcare.
“There is a tremendous range of jobs and opportunities down here. There’s no question about that,” Canny said.
“We do have an ageing population and with an ageing population means, we are going to have many more jobs available.”
Canny acknowledged there were challenges when it came to businesses enticing people to Southland to live. Although the one thing he constantly heard was when people did make the shift and got involved living in the Southland community, they loved it.
He said there were various reasons why Southland was such a great place to live, including housing affordability and the shorter commute to different activities.
“If you can remove a lot of your mortgage debt and come to a place where you don’t have to spend half of your life in a vehicle travelling, it would have to be fairly compelling.”
While housing affordability was an