Having previously worked in private security, mother-of-two Jacqui Taylor is now head of immigration for the border at the Christchurch airport – though she often helps to manage the Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin borders too.

In 2006, while Jacqui was working for Customs, the opportunity arose to move to Immigration as she was working very closely with them at the time. However, the immigration management position didn’t arise until March 2013 when the Auckland manager was going overseas for three months and needed a replacement. Jacqui says she was “really lucky to get that opportunity”, and so in June last year when the same opportunity arose in Christchurch, she was prepared to take it on permanently.

As a border officer, the 12-hour shifts – three days on, three days off – made parenting quite difficult. However, now she has taken on a Monday to Friday, 9am until 5pm role as manager, Jacqui says it’s a lot easier. Yet what happens in those hours is completely unpredictable.

On the border, there is no such thing as a typical day. “You never know what is going to turn up,” said Jacqui. “It could be a dull day, where not much happens, or it could be a day where it’s all go and you have a number of alerts.” For the most part though, interacting with passengers and questioning them to make sure they make all the entry requirements is what the job involves.

Despite no tertiary qualifications being required for the role of immigration officer, Jacqui says that there is a lot of ongoing training when you’re in the role. “The legislation and instructions change a lot and you always have to be up to date with documenting, examinations and security features changing.” Limitations for people entering the country often change with the various skill shortages that New Zealand has.

As well as the constantly evolving job, Jacqui enjoys the variety of people she meets and the knowledge that “you actually get to make a positive difference for New Zealand”.

“Ultimately you get to decide, under recommendation, who gets to enter the country and who doesn’t,” she says. The downside though is “you can never please everyone with the decisions you make, so it’s hard sometimes to know what’s right”.

Nevertheless, immigration is a great career option, Jacqui insists.

“In terms of working for a government department, immigration is right up there. It presents a lot of opportunities, not just in
New Zealand but internationally too.”

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