23 Jul 2007

NZ company expresses confidence in seasonal work scheme after 20 Tongans start grape pruning.

7:41 pm on 23 July 2007

20 Tongans have just begun viticulture work in New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

They are working for a Marlborough based company, Vinepower, and director, Jason Kennard, says they get full accommodation, transport to and from work, and return airfares after a seven month stint.

He says the company had orginally looked to Fiji for workers, but with Fiji withdrawn from the RSE as one of the New Zealand Government's sanctions against the interim regime, they turned to Tonga.

"On the whole the scheme is a good idea, and I think it will work and I think it will be good for the industry in the end and it should hopefully bring the contractor and grower together which hasn't happened so much in the past, but this scheme makes this happen and it will be very good for the industry I think."

Vinepower's Jason Kennard.

The 2007 Forum Economic Ministers' meeting has recommended more Pacific leaders push for some kind of labour mobility arrangement with Australia and New Zealand, at the October Forum meeting in Tonga.