26 Jun 2017

Fiji seasonal workers abscond from NZ orchard

9:49 am on 26 June 2017

Two seasonal workers from Fiji have absconded from an orchard in New Zealand, angering Fiji's employment minister.

RSE worker

RSE worker Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Immigration New Zealand says the two workers were due to return to Fiji after six months' work last month, but they have disappeared.

The Fiji minister, Jone Usamate, told The Fiji Times the workers were in the eastern Hawkes Bay region, but they were on the run.

Immigration New Zealand said it was working with the local Fiji community to try and find the pair.

The behaviour of some workers in Australia and New Zealand has riled Mr Usamate, who earlier this month banned 19 villages from taking part in schemes for four years following complaints of poor behaviour.

Fiji's government is trying to push for New Zealand to increase the number of seasonal workers allowed into the country each year, and the issue was raised in talks with foreign minister Gerry Brownlee last month.

Fiji has been allowed to participate in the scheme since 2015, when relations between the two countries warmed following the first post-coup elections in 2014.

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