RSE workers

New Zealand confirms dates for One-way Quarantine Free Travel dates for RSE Scheme

“We’re pleased to announce that RSE workers from Vanuatu can begin arriving into New Zealand from 4 October, with Samoan and Tongan workers arriving from 12 October,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

“This will provide much needed certainty for our growers as they gear up for summer and autumn harvesting.”

One-way quarantine-free travel for Samoa, Tonga,Vanuatu RSE workers to start in October

The change was announced by, New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“We want to provide certainty to the horticulture industry that we are moving forward with safe quarantine-free travel for RSE workers in time for the upcoming picking season,” Damien O’Connor said.

Ni-Vanuatu RSE workers travel to New Zealand

The group of workers marks the resumption of the RSE scheme since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of the international border in March 2020.

The seasonal workers travelled to New Zealand on chartered flights operated by Air Vanuatu at the expense of RSE employers.

Vanuatu has been the largest sending country of workers to NZ since the establishment of the scheme.

Seasonal workers from Vanuatu set to return to New Zealand

Last November, the New Zealand government granted a border exception for up to 2,000 experienced Pacific Island RSE workers to address labour shortages.

Local media in Vanuatu reported that of the 2,000 quota for the Pacific, ni-Vanuatu make up 45 per cent of the RSE labour for the February to March intake.

The workers will be travelling to New Zealand on eight chartered flights operated by Air Vanuatu at the expense of their RSE employers.

Over 150 Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers ready to leave for NZ

The workers will travel to New Zealand on Tuesday (2 February), marking the formal resumption of the RSE programme for 2021.

According to the New Zealand High Commission, this season RSE will be open to 2000 experienced workers from across the Pacific and close to 900 will come from Vanuatu.

NZ High Commission First Secretary, Adham Crichton spoke to the workers and told them that their health and safety was the number one priority and thanked them for contribution they make to the New Zealand horticulture industry.

Kiwifruit body wants more RSE workers

The body's chief executive, Nikki Johnson, said this reflected the current labour shortage facing the industry in the Bay of Plenty region.

The cap was increased from 10,500 to 11,100 for this year's season and around 2000 RSE workers would operate in the Bay of Plenty at some point, Ms Johnson said.

An extra 1200 workers were needed over the next month, however, to pick and pack the kiwifruit crop, she said.

What next for senior RSE workers?

The temporary migrant labour scheme celebrated its tenth anniversary in Blenheim in July 2017 after initially being introduced in 2007 to assist the New Zealand horticultural industry find a stable workforce whilst improving the economies of the Pacific Islands.

However, RSE Liaison Officer for the Tongan Government Sefita Hao’uli believes the time has come to train workers to transition back to living permanently at home after finishing their time on the scheme.

200 more Ni-Van workers for Australia

According to a RNZ report, the workers said they were in awe of their agent, John Suran, who lived with a disability, having no hands, but has travelled to Australia and facilitated interviews and arranged the placements.

Vanuatu's Commissioner of Labour Lione Kaluat said Australian farmers were focusing on Vanuatu to provide workers for their farms because ni-Vanuatu workers were hardworking, committed and had respect for their employers.

Mr Suran had been dealing with the Madec company which will employ the 200 workers.

Vanuatu customs seizes firearms linked to RSE workers

The department says three firearms and bullets were last week confiscated from a container registered to seasonal workers returning from New Zealand after taking part in the RSE scheme.

Three more firearms and ammunition were confiscated the week before.

New Zealand Government Responds to FIC Demands in the PACER Plus Negotiations

This responds positively to the demands of the Pacific Island Countries in the PACER Plus negotiations, which seek to enhance their participation in international trade. 

In June 2015, Australia took the unprecedented step in lifting the cap under the Seasonal Workers Program and extended it to the entire agriculture sector and to the accommodation sector in selected locations in the country.