Revealed: How many nurses have arrived in NZ under Govt's controversial visa pathway

Nurses, we need you, come and live in New Zealand and you'll get residency straight away.

It's taken a long time, but that's finally the message from the Government.

They've given nurses and midwives the green light to be on the Green List. That means they'll be able to apply for visas with immediate residency this week.

It's part of a wider immigration shake-up adding more jobs to our residency fast-track programme.

All teachers, as well as mechanics, drain layers, gasfitters and crane operators, will now be eligible for a two-year work-to-residence visa.

The Government has also drawn up a special temporary residence pathway for bus and truck drivers too.

Please be patient, the hospital is full. Crippled by the critical shortage of critical workers, our healthcare system has been hobbling along.

"It's incredibly distressing," said Kerri Nuku from New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

Nurses have been telling us all year they are at breaking point, overworked due to an overwhelming lack of them.

"Tired of continually having to justify why it is important for us and why we need to have this workforce," she said.

Finally, the Government is buckling to pressure and putting nurses on the fastest track to residency, issuing a proper plea to the international nursing community: come and save us. 

"Our message to nurses everywhere: We are the best place to live, work and play," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

It's been so, so long coming.

When the Government announced its big immigration reset in May it inexplicably left nurses on the two-year work-to-residence programme because then-Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi thought they might bail to Australia despite being told otherwise.

Asked if the Government got it wrong, Ardern said: "The numbers demonstrate that people are seeking to come to New Zealand, but people have asked within the sector, make the message even simpler and we have."

National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford said "it's about time".

"It's been seven long months that almost everybody in New Zealand has been calling for nurses and midwives to go to the straight-to-residence pathway."

That means in a global nursing shortage we were that much less attractive - and the application numbers show it. 

Newshub can reveal builders and labourers have expressed the highest interest in moving to New Zealand.

As of November 22, 2435 had applied for a visa, and 634 had arrived here.

Compare that to massage therapists for instance - 257 had applied and 129 had arrived.

And for nurses, 190 had applied for visas and 57 had arrived in New Zealand. That's less than half the number of massage therapists.

The minister's office provided updated figures on Monday night showing 2864 nurses have arrived in New Zealand via the Critical Purpose Visitor visa.

Eighty-nine have now arrived under the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

"Over the course of the year we've had multiple visa pathways for nurses," said Immigration Minister Michael Wood. 

The Government was unwilling to admit it took too long to realise its settings were wrong. 

"Ultimately, we have heard the ask. The ask was: make the message simpler. We have done that," said Ardern.

Stanford said it's a sign of an "arrogant Government that didn't want to admit they'd make a mistake".

But Wood said the Government's position consistently has been to listen to the sector and "work pragmatically with them".

It just took an eternity for pragmatism to prevail.