Repatriation flights

Repatriation flights to Vanuatu seen as 'thank you' from NZ

Jonathan Schwass said until recently there were 3700 ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers in New Zealand picking fruit and grapes and carrying out other horticultural work.

As the picking season ended, the RSE workers couldn't return home because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Schwass said, in phase one, just over 1,000 workers were repatriated.

He said New Zealand Defence Force transport was organised because commercial options were not suitable.

Final repatriation flight from New Zealand for stranded ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers

They travelled on a New Zealand Air Force aircraft.

Over the last five days, there have been eight flights to Port Vila to repatriate stranded Recognised Seasonal Employer workers.

In total more than 1000 ni-Vanuatu have been brought home on these flights and it was the largest repatriation effort carried out by the Royal New Zealand Air Force in recent history.

The passengers are under quarantine for 14-days where they will be tested for the presence of the coronavirus.

RNZAF returns seasonal workers to Vanuatu

With no commercial flights available, the Government of Vanuatu requested assistance from New Zealand to help get the mostly seasonal workers home.

They are being flown to Port Vila, with eight flights due to depart from either Christchurch or Auckland. There were further flights over the weekend and into next week.

There are over 1000 Vanuatu nationals stranded in New Zealand.

All passengers are following Vanuatu Government requirements, including a health check prior to boarding and a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Vanuatu.

Joint effort underway to repatriate Vanuatu nationals stranded in NZ

This has been confirmed by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark.

 “With no commercial flight options available, the Vanuatu nationals who are largely made up of Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) workers, will  return to Vanuatu on  New Zealand Defence Force flights over the coming week,” said Mr Peters.

“The Government of Vanuatu has requested assistance from New Zealand to help get these workers home and New Zealand is supporting that request.