Work and Employment

Work and Employment

There are no shortage of jobs on the Chatham Islands and the unemployment rate is well below the national average.

Fishing, farming  and tourism operators provide the bulk of work opportunities on both Chatham and Pitt Islands.

The Department of Conservation is also one of the biggest employers on the Islands


The fishing industry generates 60% of the income on the islands and employs a third of all workers.

The sustainably-harvested species that these islands are world-famous for include rock lobster (crayfish), paua (abalone) and blue cod.

The majority of Chatham Islands seafood products are exported to Asian destinations such as China and Japan.

Visitors to the islands can buy seafood from several vendors on the Chathams, but the opportunity to catch your own is also part of the allure for visitors, with good fishing available from any of the wharves. For the more determined fisherman, commercial chartered fishing trips can be arranged from most Chatham Island ports.

The commercial fishing industry is managed through a quota system, which limits catch sizes and access to the fishery. The quotas are held, in part, by local individuals, organisations and Iwi, with the balance held offshore.


The tourism sector on the Chatham Islands has grown into a viable and vibrant industry and many islanders benefit from the growth of this industry.

Visitor numbers are carefully managed and are dependent on the availability of accommodation. Tourists enjoy the island’s natural environment and wildlife along with its unique cultural heritage and remote location.

The Chatham Islands really are a special part of New Zealand that not everyone gets to see.

Farming & Forestry

Sheep and Cattle farming are essential to the local economy.

There are about 45,000 hectares in production.

Farming trends and the lower returns resulted in many of the island’s larger sheep farms diversifying into livestock rearing  and beef farming. These days, with global prices for all primary commodities increasing, sheep and wool are considered more profitable and some farmers are shedding cattle numbers and increasing sheep flocks, as Chatham Island’s sheep are renowned for growing premium fleeces.

Some landowners have successfully grown Macrocarpa and/or Pinus Radiata plantations.  It takes approximately 25 years for these trees to reach maturity, making forestry a long term investment.