25 Oct 2006

NZ to accept seasonal workers from Pacific

2:42 pm on 25 October 2006

The New Zealand government says it will allow in up to 5,000 people from the Pacific Islands countries in a new seasonal labour scheme.

The workers will be allowed to work in the horticulture and viticulture sectors from next April.

They will be allowed in for up to seven months, though employers first need to show that there are no New Zealanders that could fill the positions.

There has been a strong push for such labour schemes from Pacific countries and it has been on the agenda at the Forum summit in Nadi.

The Immigration Minister David Cunliffe says it is a genuine win-win situation.

"It's true that there are domestic labour shortages and that is partially met by traditional seasonal labour from a number of countries but not much from the Pacific. What we are proposing to do is switch that into a Pacific priorities scheme, kickstarting it with relationship facilitation in six Forum Island countries and really giving the Pacific Islands a hand up here."