Coronavirus: Migrant workers in Queenstown describe the 'impossible' situation as Kiwis tell them 'just go home'

Migrant workers in the once-tourist hotspot of Queenstown are pleading with Kiwis to not turn their backs on them as the resort town continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.

Many workers are currently on either no income or limited income with tourism non-existent in a COVID-19 world.

About 9000 requests for assistance have been made to the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Mayor Jim Boult says.

Migrant worker Lucy Bateman, originally from the UK, said she now called New Zealand her home.

In a video by Crux Publishing Ltd and shared by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, Bateman said the UK looked like a "shambles" and was glad to be in New Zealand.

"I've seen a lot of people write, you know, 'just go home' on Facebook posts.

"We have built our home here and our community here and it's not just as easy to go home."

It would be unfair for Kiwis to "turn your back" on migrant workers, said Holleh Rowrouz, also from the UK.

"We really want to be allowed the opportunity to ride this wave out together and to continue to work in this country and work towards rebuilding the economy."

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Anna Mickell said Kiwis had to be compassionate.

"We have a leader in this country who has been very clear that she expects compassion.

"The majority of people are going to need to leave because there simply won't be enough work here in New Zealand for a year or two."

Some of the town's migrant workers had been in New Zealand for up to a decade, she said.

"They feel that this is home now."

Statistics released late last month revealed the Queenstown Lakes District had gone from being the richest region in the country to one of the poorest in the space of a month due to COVID-19.

"Two months ago we were the most desirable part of New Zealand to live in; growth and population growth and GDP.

"Suddenly we have morphed into being probably the most financially challenged district in our country," Boult said last month.