The Immigration Minister has asked officials for more information on the applications of up to 200 tradespeople being flown from China to complete a high-end Auckland hotel.
A Beijing-based property developer working on the Park Hyatt Hotel said the project could be delayed for months if it did not provide its own staff.
Minister for Workplace Relations and Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway told Morning Report he wanted to help employers who need to fill jobs from overseas when they cannot find local workers.
He said he understood the Chinese workers had not yet arrived.
"The applications have been coming in 10 at a time so it wasn't necessarily immediately obvious there was a significant issue here but I have asked for a briefing and I'll be getting more details today," he said.
"We know that construction is a sector where the previous government failed to invest in the skills that New Zealanders need to participate in that sector, and there are significant shortages in the construction sector as we're seeing a lot of infrastructure and a lot of construction being undertaken at the moment.
"As we go forward into projects such as Kiwibuild, which is a long pipeline of construction, that does give us the opportunity to make sure that New Zealanders do get the training opportunities and do take up the opportunities that that kind of work provides."
He said government initiatives, such as fees-free post-school training and apprenticeships, would help address skills shortages.