20 Apr 2007

Tongan claim NZ scheme will be shortlived

1:41 pm on 20 April 2007

The secretary of Tonga's Squash Council Steven Edwards says a seasonal work scheme to New Zealand is likely to be short-lived.

Representatives from Tonga, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tuvalu are due to sign an agreement with the New Zealand government today for the scheme to be implemented.

He says the Tonga government is right to try to find ways to employ people in Tonga.

And he says those people, who will be employed in agriculture and viticulture industries in New Zealand for up to seven months, will be able to contribute to Tonga by sending money home.

But he says he has some reservations about the scheme.

"The loopholes regarding overstaying and all that, Im sure that will have already been sorted out between the two governments. There will have to be some conditions to ensure that anyone who goes overseas on this scheme will have to comply strictly with it, but I can't predict what is going to happen. I think it's important that we support the scheme and give it a start and then we'll all learn from it later, but I don't think its not going to be a long term scheme, that's my view."

Steven Edwards.

The first group of Tongan workers is expected to leave for work under the New Zealand scheme in May.