12 Sep 2021

Plea for more countries to be added to visa scheme for RSE workers

12:18 pm on 12 September 2021

A major horticulture group wants more countries added to the visa scheme for seasonal orchard and vineyard workers.

Pacific Islands workers have been described as invaluable to New Zealand's horticulture and viticulture industries.

The RSE scheme will allow quarantine-free travel from three countries from next month. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

One-way quarantine-free travel by workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will start from next month, under the 'recognised seasonal employer' or RSE scheme.

Up to 14,400 people will be allowed in for the 2021-22 harvest.

Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said the industry is ready, and wanting to bring in as many people as possible.

"We'd also obviously like to see the scheme expanded beyond just these three countries, in the end we have a very long and close association with the Solomons for example and we'd like to see work being done to add them to the list at some point."

Pollard said it is not just good news for growers.

"For the Pacific Islands it's just great news, they've been suffering for a long time with the impact of the pandemic and workers not being able to come to New Zealand to earn the very much needed money, so this is great news for them also to repatriate funds to their families and communities."

Pollard said although there's a lot to sort out, the month's notice that has been given is enough to prepare for the workers' arrival.

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