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NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme

Domestic Pacific workers can be as successful as overseas Pacific workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Mr Lotu-Iiga is encouraging employers to take up the New Zealand Seasonal Worker Scheme announced today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. The scheme will provide pastoral care and other support to assist Kiwis into seasonal work. Mrs Bennett also announced an increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme recruits seasonal workers from overseas to assist in the horticulture and viticulture industries where there are not enough New Zealand workers.

“I was in Marlborough in the weekend speaking to employers, Pacific RSE workers and domestic Pacific workers and I saw first-hand the benefits of Pacific people working in the wine industry,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

Marlborough produces over 75 per cent of New Zealand’s wine and RSE is a success. Mr Lotu-Iiga says more domestic Pacific workers, Samoan quota and Pacific Access Category migrants are working for viticulture and horticulture employers. This accounts for why Marlborough has the fastest growing Pacific population in New Zealand.

A Pipfruit New Zealand survey last year found that RSE had increased production by 32 per cent and the New Zealand apple industry was now over 40 per cent more productive than their competition.

“Employer support, including pastoral care, is a significant reason for the success of RSE. If appropriate and targeted a similar scheme for Kiwi seasonal workers could also do well.”

Mr Lotu-Iiga is keen to see employers get the full benefit of having a Kiwi work force and says hiring Pacific people in New Zealand has advantages.

“Pacific people have a strong sense of community and team work. Some have worked the land in the islands in tough conditions, and this is one of the reasons RSE workers do so well. With the right settings local Pacific workers can achieve the same results.”

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