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Tsunami Aid for Seasonal Workers

Tsunami Aid for Seasonal Workers

45 tsunami victims who arrived from Samoa late last night started their day today with a traditional barbecue to thank those who helped them.

Their arrival is the result of $17,000 worth of aid given to a Tsunami relief fund operated by the Community Foundation Hawke’s Bay.

Before they started work on Hawke’s Bay orchards the Samoans wanted to show their gratitude for the rapid response to their plight. They come from around the village of Poutasi on the south coast of Samoa, a tourist spot more than an hour from Apia. A new hospital in the village was flattened by earthquake-driven waves which raged overland on September 29 after a jolt measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale.

Homes of the pickers were destroyed. Wives and children were among the 148 people killed that day.

Records, passports and recruitment arrangements of yesterday’s arrivals were lost. They had qualified for entry to Hawke’s Bay as members of the Department of Labour’s recognised seasonal employment scheme which bolsters the number of seasonal workers in Hawke’s Bay’s orchards and vineyards each year, but they were not going to be able to come this year.

With the help of Hawke’s Bay people the appeal has helped cover costs of replacing the boots, clothing and equipment they needed for the picking season, also their documentation.

“The work these people will do will contribute greatly to Hawke’s Bay’s seasonal economy, so this appeal has been a win for the province as well as timely assistance for the tsunami victims who have homes to rebuild,” said Mr Peter Dunkerley, chairman of the community foundation.

The area of Poutasi was visited by Prime Minister John Key immediately after the disaster. He was bestowed the chiefly title of Matai because of his support and his interest in the people of area.

ENDS

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