Fiji keen for more seasonal work opportunities in NZ

Fiji‘s government is considering a survey to gauge how its people benefit from seasonal work opportunities in New Zealand.

RSE worker in a Hawke‘s Bay orchard. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

More than 200 Fijians have been working in New Zealand‘s horticulture and viticulture sectors as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The Minister of Employment Opportunities, Jone Usamate, had discussions about the scheme during a visit to New Zealand in February.

He said most of Fiji‘s participants were from rural areas and they appeared to be capitalising on the opportunity.

“We have some anecdotal examples of people really using the money well. Some have built homes, some have bought machinery, some have started farms, small businesses.

“So we have anecdotal examples of people really doing well with the money. But I think we will be looking at a full survey so we can gauge the benefits from participation in the RSE programme.”

Asked whether his government was concerned about the level of pay deductions some Pacific seasonal workers in New Zealand were facing, Mr Usamate said the government‘s objective was always to ensure workers saved as much as possible.

“Which means that we‘d like to see how well they can reduce the deduction which includes the cost of transportation, the cost of accommodation – I think those are the major ones – and also the cost of remittance. So those are three issues that we‘ve been discussing with the New Zealand government,” he said.

Mr Usamate said Fiji was keen to have more Fijians working in the RSE scheme, but that depended on whether New Zealand would raise the cap on overall RSE worker numbers.

Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme workers from Fiji taken a short break from picking pears in a Twyford orchard owned by RJ Flowers. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

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