NZ offers to help Solomons improve RSE participation

8:35 pm on 4 April 2017

New Zealand has offered to help Solomon Islands improve its participation in its Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

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Photo: RNZ/Johnny Blades

More than 600 Solomon Islanders currently work in viticulture and horticulture in New Zealand the highest number since Solomon Islands joined the scheme in 2007.

However this pales in comparison to other countries such as Vanuatu who have more than 4000 workers in NZ and Samoa and Tonga who have around 2000 workers respectively.

Solomon Islands minister of foreign affairs Milner Tozaka toured New Zealand last week visiting employers and workers in Wairarapa, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Napier.

He said he was pleased to learn that employers thought Solomon Island workers some of the best to come out of the Pacific.

RSE worker offloads apples into a crate in a Hawke's Bay orchard.

RSE worker offloads apples into a crate in a Hawke's Bay orchard. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

But Mr Tozaka said they also told him the biggest issue with hiring them was the cost of airfares from Solomon Islands which are almost double that of the other Pacific countries involved in the RSE scheme.

Other issues included the financial difficulty for Solomon Islanders in meeting visa requirements particularly medical examinations.

Mr Tozaka said he relayed some of these difficulties to his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully and was pleased to receive an offer of technical assistance.

"We can talk about increasing our number. But it is also very important that the government through my ministry take ownership, leadership and engagement by putting in resources and also to put in place a policy that will guide the RSE program in the country," said Milner Tozaka.

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Photo: RNZ/Peter Fowler

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