Tuvalu’s DPP visits RSE workers in New Zealand

Government News

Issue No. 06/2021 – Friday, 29 January 2021 (Kitiona Tausi)

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries, Hon Minute Taupo paid a visit to Tuvaluans under the Recognized Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme working in the South Island of New Zealand. Hon Taupo has already visited workers in the North Island.

Hon Taupo was accompanied on this visit by his wife, Madame Seleta Taupo, Tuvalu’s High Commissioner to Nw Zealand, Excellency Paulson Panapa and Madame Kapikea Panapa, Deputy High Commissioner, Ms. Puaita Etuati and Chauffer, Mr Ioane Peleti.

The visit began on Sunday, 17 January where the delegation left Wellington for Blenheim and on the next day, Monday 18 January, the delegation met with three Tuvalu seamen working with the Vaikawa Fishing Company and later that afternoon they met with the owner. The delegation was not able to meet with Tuvaluans working with Sealord Fishing Company as they were out fishing. The two companies employed a total of seven Tuvaluans.

According to a press release  from the Tuvalu High Commission in New Zealand, discussions with the Waikawa shipping company were very positive and the company was keen to assist in the development of our Tuvalu fisheries given their experience in different types of fishing.

The Hon Taupo agreed that there is potential assistance from Waikawa and he would be sending over his fisheries team to pursue this further. The delegation was treated to a beautiful lunch hosted by Waikawa. Fishermen.

In the afternoon of the same day, the delegation met eight Tuvalu workers with Hortus Ltd and three with Focus Labor Solutions and their respective managers. Very fruitful discussions were made, and it was exciting and proud to note that our boys have been doing great in their work and the managers have expressed keen interest to increase Tuvalu numbers with them.

The problem with getting more workers is Covid-19 and its restrictions in place, which prevents bringing in of new workers from Tuvalu. The managers suggested that may be a government-to-government approach would be more effective and Tuvalu would be the best option to bring in workers from as it is still Covid-free.

On Tuesday 18 January 2021, the delegation travelled to Motueka to meet eleven workers working with KONO. As KONO is a Maori-owned, the DPM Hon Taupo and delegation were welcomed in the traditional Maori way known as “Powhiri” before discussions were held with KONO leaders. Like previous companies, KONO also praised our workers for their great work. KONO also expressed keenness to increase Tuvalu workers.

Another company Fairfield Orchards was not visited as the ten Tuvalu workers with them were already up in Auckland on another contract.

All Tuvalu workers are well and healthy, and they look forward to returning to Tuvalu by end of their contracts in the current season.

The Hon Taupo and delegation rounded up the visits by meeting Tuvalu communities in Christchurch and Oamaru. All are doing well and were very happy for the opportunity to meet the Deputy Prime Minister. 

And like the receptive responses of all the Tuvaluans that the Hon. Taupo visited so far in this round of trips in New Zealand, they were also very happy to be visited at least by a Tuvalu Government Minister.  The Hon Taupo also thanked them for hosting him and delegation and extended his sincere thanks for their continued support for Tuvalu scholarship students who have been studying in universities in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Lastly, the delegation also had the opportunity to meet the management of the Alliance Group Ltd which is a cooperative-based and a meat producing factory based in Oamaru. It presently employs about twenty Tuvaluans living in Oamaru and are also keen to extend job opportunities for more Tuvaluans in NZ and those in Tuvalu. More discussions will be made with them in due course with the expectation to secure new work opportunities for Tuvaluans in Tuvalu.

From the total of 115 Tuvalu workers under the RSE, thirty-two are working in the Marlborough area in Blenheim and in Motueka. There are also seven other Tuvalu fishermen working with Waikawa Fishing Co and Sealord Fishing Co which are also based in Blenheim and Nelson respectively.

The delegation returned to Wellington on Saturday night, 23 January 2021.

The Hon Taupo will round off his visits with meetings with a couple of Ministers in the NZ government and a courtesy call on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

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