Samoan carpenters to work in Christchurch Rebuild Programme


Christchurch after the earthquake

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA: TUESDAY 26 JULY 2016: Three Samoan carpenters is the first group to be recruited to work under the New Zealand Christchurch Rebuild Programmes (CRP). The group was farewell today by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti.

“You should make the most of this opportunity, work hard and send money for your family here,” Tuilaepa told the group.

The 3 carpenters are Faleupolu Tavita, Pinati Tita’e and Aukusitino Niko who have recruited to work in Christchurch for 12 months.

Talks between Samoa and New Zealand to recruit local workers have been ongoing for more than ten years and an opportunity emerged with the rebuilding of earthquake stricken Christchurch.

Tuilaepa said he was in New Zealand last week and he noted the need for more skilled workers for this programme.

He said there many Samoans have been educated under the National University of Samoa and the Australian Pacific Technical College (APTC) and have received diplomas as proof of the skills they have and these skills could be utilized under the CRP programme.

“Work at rebuilding Christchurch has started and a delegation from New Zealand was in Samoa to discuss the recruitments of local carpenters to work under the programme,” said Tuilaepa.

He said for carpenters to be recruited, they need be fluent in English, have carpentry skills and a good judgment of things or common sense.

“Carpentry is not the same as the apple picking programme where no special education skills are needed other than the strength to pick as many apple as possible,” said Tuilaepa.

From the 84 applicants that applied for a chance under the programme, only 20 were endorsed, however, that number came down to 5 after most of the applicants failed other criteria.

From the 05 that were finally selected, 02 were later dropped as one was disqualified because he had a police report, and the other opted out when his wife just had a baby.

He said there will be another group coming over in September for more talks about more opportunities, and he advised whoever might apply for future opportunities, not to waste their time if they do not have a clean police report.

When in breach of contract
Samoa has been sending workers to New Zealand under the Regional Seasonal Employment scheme, and as soon as they arrive in New Zealand, “they forget advise they received before departing and do stupid things,” according to Tuilaepa.

Alcohol has been identified as the biggest challenge faced by these workers and Tuilaepa warned the group that communications between the two countries is ongoing and reports of their progress will be forwarded to the office in Apia.

“By the time they realized their mistake, it would be too late and they will never have another opportunity to work overseas,” he told the workers.

The carpenters stand to make more than ST$40 per hour and would probably bring in ST$2000 a week.

Tuilaepa emphasized the importance of utilizing good opportunities and to bear in mind the good name of Samoa not to be tarnished by any stupid actions.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi & Minister of Finance Sili Epa with the carpenters Aukusitino Niko, Pinati Tita’e and Faleupolu Tavita

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi & Minister of Finance Sili Epa with the carpenters Aukusitino Niko, Pinati Tita’e and Faleupolu Tavita

The carpenters
Faleupolu Tavita of Vaivase used to work as the senior maintenance building officer at the National Health Services (NHS). He later  joined the BW Design & Build before becoming self employed as a carpenter.

Pinati Tita’e of Pitonu’u, Satupa’itea used to work at Strickland Brothers Joinery before joining the Island Schwalger Design as a carpenter. He moved to Savaii and started to do renovation work on several hotels such as Le Lagoto Resort, Aganoa Beach Resort and Ocean View Hotel.

He returned to Apia and rejoined Island Schwalger Design as a leading hand carpenter before getting this opportunity.

Aukusitino Niko of Vailu’utai has worked for more than 10 years as a foreman with Fletcher Construction and Cabella before joining the Lamana Construction Company as a foreman.

Aukusitino on behalf of the carpenters acknowledged the opportunity and pledged that they will serve as ambassadors for Samoa under the programme.

The group was recruited by the Pacific Trust Company and two of them will be working for the Trade Staff Construction Company and under the Adeco company.