PM Tuilaepa presents the NZ Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse a Samoan siapo print
By Tupuola Terry Tavita, Savali Newspaper
WELLINGTON 23 JULY 2014: The New Zealand-Pacific Islands seasonal worker scheme (RSE) will increase its intake by a thousand more workers to 9000 this year.
The announcement by New Zealand Immigration Minister Hon. Michael Woodhouse this afternoon during the 8th annual RSE conference here at the James Cook Hotel in Wellington was received with much applause by Pacific Island government representatives, New Zealand farm owners and RSE officials.
According to Minister Woodhouse, though there is a preference to recruit unemployed New Zealanders to its fledgling horticulture and viticulture industry, the continued profitability of the industry has become reliant on RSE Pacific Island workers.
“The industry is not only expanding but diversifying to other fruits and products, so the need for Pacific Island workers under the RSE scheme to meet harvest demands and market deadlines simply cannot be overlooked,” he said.
Delivering the keynote address at the capacity revenue, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the scheme – now in its 8th year – has been both a boon for New Zealand employers and Pacific Island economies.
“The RSE work policy has been a win-win situation not just for employers being provided with a ready access to a reliable and stable seasonal workforce resulting in significant productivity gains and improvements to harvest quality but also for the worker in gaining the important work, ethical and commercial skills. Along with the money they will bring home with them, it will greatly improve the quality of life and standard of living in their communities back in the islands.”
The Prime Minister said that government and the local RSE office will continue to push to recruit more Samoan workers under the scheme and to set up commercial programmes at home to take advantage of the skills and experience returning workers bring with them.
“Presently, Samoa’s focus is not only about strengthening the uptake of workers to enable more of our able men and women to gain seasonal employment, but also to leverage the benefits of RSE policy by working across government and the business community on business enterprise ventures for returning workers.”
On the event that some of the workers will acquire permanent residence in New Zealand under the quota scheme, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said his government is not at all concerned.
“It’s a fact of life that you continue to lose your talented individuals to other countries. New Zealand loses its skilled workers to Australia and Australia too to other parts of the developed world every year. Pacific Island countries like Samoa are no different.
“In our case, even if our skilled people move overseas and work there, they still send home millions in remittances that contribute enormously to the development of their families and the national economy.”
One statistic the Prime Minister said he was happy about, is the significant reduction of incidents involving Samoa workers this year.
“Good behaviour and abstaining from alcohol is a key issue I have been hammering into our workers from day one. In order for the programme to succeed and employ more of our people, they have to work hard, behave themselves on the farms and stay out of trouble.”
At the conclusion of his address, the Prime Minister invited the RSE participants to hold their 9th conference in Apia next year.
“As employers, you need to know where your workers are from, but most importantly, where and what the money that you are paying them is being used for.
“There is a little rugby match in Apia around July next year involving the famous All Blacks and a little-known team called Manu Samoa, hopefully played at midday under the burning tropical sun. It would be good to schedule your meeting in Apia around that time. It will certainly be a lot warmer than cold and blustery Wellington.”
Some facts about the RSE scheme.
• Since its inception in 2007, approximately 7000 Samoan workers have been recruited under the scheme. It accounts for up to eight percent of formal employment
• Up to July, 1153 Samoan workers have been recruited this year,
• The RSE scheme is estimated to contribute $20 million tala to the local economy every year