Balance needed for Kiribati hope to increase RSE workers
It's a balancing act for the Hawke's Bay horticulture industry, with an RSE country hoping for an increase in the number of their workers employed in the region.
As part of a national tour, Kiribati Minister for Labour and Human Resources Development Ruateki Tekaiara met Tukituki MP Craig Foss yesterday to discuss opportunities provided to Kiribatians through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme - which allows growers to bring in overseas-based labour for seasonal work.
They also spoke about how it was working for the Pacific country, any issues around the number able to work in Hawke's Bay through the scheme, and elements of it which could be improved.
Mr Tekaiara said they were asking for the number of workers involved in the RSE scheme - which was very supportive - to be increased.
Currently, there are over 160 Kiribatians involved in the scheme in New Zealand.
Around 40 of these are in Hawke's Bay, employed by either Mr Apple or the Crasborn Group.
When asked what he would like to see this number increase by, Mr Tekaiara said, "as much as possible".
"We have a lot of people, and a lot of young people waiting for their chance in the country to do this, so that's why we're looking for the opportunities," he said.
Although Mr Foss acknowledged the good behaviour of RSE workers in the region, he said there was also the need to balance work for them with availability of local workers, putting "suitable New Zealanders" first.
"But we all acknowledge that [at] peak harvest time we need everyone we can get," he said.
Balancing locals with RSE workers and "our friends and family from the Pacific" was a much easier conversation to have now, he said, due to productivity, and changes in confidence.
"This whole conversation used to be a lot more them and us in the past," he said. "Now everyone's around the table - government, growers, RSE countries - and participating in solutions.
"It's pretty cool."
Mr Tekaiara is continuing his travels around the country today.