WELLINGTON: A tiny New Zealand town that offered property for bargain prices in a bid to attract more people has been swamped with more than 5,000 enquiries from around the world, the local mayor said Friday (Jul 1).
Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the South Island township of Kaitangata had more jobs than people, with a population of 800 but up to 1,000 vacancies, mostly in the thriving agricultural sector.
To boost its population, the town has been offering house-and-land packages for NZ$230,000 (US$164,000) - a good deal considering the national average is NZ$577,000, rising to NZ$955,000 in Auckland.
Cadogan said the response had been overwhelming, with global interest from people enquiring about moving to the town, which is set in a lush valley about an hour's drive from Dunedin.
"We've been smashed," he told TV3. "I think my PA's going to throttle me... there's over 5,000 messages on my phone, the council website's full. It's just phenomenal."
The town has a coal mine, sawmills and processing factories for the dairy industry.
"We've got so many jobs in the district, jobs aren't a problem," Cadogan said.
"We've got the jobs, we've got the affordable housing, we've got the beautiful lifestyle. We're pretty lucky."
He said the town had been searching for ways to attract new people for years.
"We did speed dating and a jobs fair last year," he said, admitting the latest promotion had overshadowed them all.
Cadogan said the initial offering of eight land and house packages looked set to be snapped up and the town "will just keep finding them" if interest warrants it.
"It's a neat wee town with some really positive people and I think it's a hoot of a story," he said.