8 Jul 2017

Pacific nations want to review numbers on the RSE scheme

1:13 pm on 8 July 2017

Tuvalu's prime minister said offering more opportunity for skilled workers in New Zealand will help move his country towards self sufficiency.

Tuvalu Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga.

Tuvalu Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga. Photo: AFP

Enele Sopoaga is in New Zealand for a Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme conference in Blenheim.

Mr Sopoaga said the current scheme is important, but enhances a dependency mentality and does not offer enough benefit to the Pacific.

"Expanding the RSE to allow skilled qualified workers, who are in demand in New Zealand, will help move the scheme to one of partnership", he said.

"Give us the chance from these shared benefits to also develop our own capability back home for the people to be more educated, and more self-sufficient, and more sustainable."

"This should work in tandem with the recently signed regional trade deal PACER Plus, which has a provision for labour mobility", he said.

Thousands of Pacific Islanders come to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, but other visa categories have become harder for Pacific migrants to obtain

Thousands of Pacific Islanders come to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, but other visa categories have become harder for Pacific migrants to obtain Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Samoa has asked for the cap on the number of workers allowed under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme to be lifted.

In a speech at the RSE Conference, Samoa's Minister for Commerce Industry and Labour said the scheme produces "triple win benefits."

Lautafi Fio Purcell pointed out that Samoa began its RSE participation in 2007 with 600 workers, and this year has almost 1700 RSE workers spread over nine regions in New Zealand.

Highlighting the benefits to Samoa, he said workers bring in an estimated US$7.9 million per season.

Lautafi said workers also returned with new skills in savings, communication, leadership and problem solving.

Samoa RSE workers

Samoa RSE workers Photo: RNZI/Tipi Autagavaia Tipi

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