21 Nov 2005

New Zealand government softens position on Pacific labour mobility

8:33 pm on 21 November 2005

The New Zealand government has signalled it is to become more pro-active in trying to meet other Pacific nations' demands over temporary labour mobility.

It is allowing, for the first time, up to 450 migrant workers, including some from Vanuatu, in to the Hawkes Bay region to pick apples, on short-term work visas.

Mary-Anne Thompson from New Zealand's Department of Labour, says this is not a change in policy....she says Pacific peoples have always been able to work in New Zealand on temporary visas.

"The change is....'how do we satisfy a bit more of the demand for the Pacific. So rather than employers just simply taking the initiative, is there anything else that we could do from a policy perspective to have more people from the Pacific come to New Zealand?' And that's what's changed."