Winning South Africans’ hearts and minds.

For New Zealand employers considering a trip to the Republic of South Africa to recruit skilled tradies and professionals, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi’s 2019 RWC victory speech helps us understand contemporary South Africa’s mind and mood.

The world watched awestruck as Kolisi hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft on November 2nd 2019. His team, criticised as boring in pool play, had unleashed a spectacle of relentless, strategic and innovative World Cup rugby. But for many Saffas, the best was yet to come.

Addressing the capacity Yokohama International Stadium, an estimated broadcast audience of 400 million and an incredible 1.7 billion online viewers worldwide, his modest, gracious and honest acceptance speech became an instant highlight.

New Zealanders can often be quick to default to stereotypes about South Africans. That’s one reason why Kolisi’s speech is so important. It disrupts easy clichés to help us see the deeper truths behind them. So, what can Kiwi employers learn from Siya Kolisi’s speech?

Openness and transparency really matter.

“We’ve faced a lot of challenges, but the people of South Africa have gotten behind us, and we are so grateful for the people of South Africa,”

Kolisi’s admission of the struggles his country faced, and still faces, is disarmingly honest. It shows how highly openness is valued by South Africans. Kiwis can perceive Saffas as loud, but South Africans feel speaking too softly can seem like you’re hiding something.

South Africans respect straight talkers so you can be sure that what you see is what you get. When it comes to hiring in South Africa, this makes being there in person, highly beneficial. Getting in front of candidates in your role as an ambassador for New Zealand, and your organisation, will help secure the best people. Bruce, a communications professional who moved to New Zealand in 2019 put it like this:

“Meeting face to face shows you’re on the level and that means a lot to us. We can come across as blunt in our dealings with others, but for us that honesty is a way to quickly work out whether you’re committed or not.”

Pride can feel bittersweet.

The 2019 RWC is being compared to President Mandela unifying the nation in a Springbok uniform in 1995. Yet, despite this victory, the legacy of apartheid and more recent economic woes drive many skilled technical, engineering, construction and professionals to emigrate.

Stats NZ data shows 8,200 South Africans migrated to New Zealand between April 2018 – April 2019: Approximately 683 every month – or 22 people every day.

Desire to secure a skilled position in New Zealand is high, but emotions are heightened also. The deep loyalty South Africans feel for home, and spiritual connections to Africa, mean even the most ambitious professional’s heart can be torn by their sense of loss at leaving.

Beyond our lifestyle benefits, New Zealand employers need to sell professional opportunities in New Zealand to an audience who may be sceptical of our scale. As a G20 economy, the RSA’s GDP is double New Zealand’s, and its location between Asia, Europe and the Americas means skilled South African’s are well travelled. We can seem small and isolated in comparison.

Diversity defines new South Africans.

“We come from different backgrounds, different races and we came together with one goal and wanted to achieve it.”

Kolisi is the first ethnic African to captain the Springboks, and the first black man from any nation to lead a team to Rugby World Cup victory. His team reflects a country reinventing itself as a rainbow nation.

Kiwi employers should also expect to interview recruits from many backgrounds. Contrary to popular belief, the Induku Consulting Group, reports that black professionals leaving South Africa have exceeded white emigrants in recent years.

First time visitors will discover a vibrant multi-cultural African affluence that is reinventing cities like Johannesburg where interviews are typically scheduled. Africa is a huge and breath-taking continent, so it’s possible for visitors to arrange experiences of forests, safaris, urban culture or the coast within a short visit.

An intense experience.

South Africans love how vivid life is in Africa. The laughs are higher, the tough is tougher – everything is a heightened version of what we’re used to in New Zealand, including their determination to succeed and prosper. This makes South Africans dedicated employees – just like in the RWC, they’ll commit everything it takes to living, working and winning here.

If you’re interested in recruiting from South Africa, Working In NZ will take employers there for interviews in February and March 2020. To learn more, or if you would like to participate, please contact


Read More Articles Below: