29 Sep 2015

Farmers 'would really struggle' without Filipinos

2:34 pm on 29 September 2015

A North Canterbury dairy farmer who helps support migrants when they move to the area says she's not surprised to hear Filipino workers falsified documents to secure visas.

Dairy cow.

Dairy cow. Photo: SUPPLIED

Hundreds of Filipino workers on dairy farms are under scrutiny after authorities in the Philippines revealed dozens have arrived on visas based on false documents.

They are also looking into claims some of the men paid as much as $1,500 to a recruiter who falsified work experience and qualifications in a bid to get them a better job.

Sharron Davie-Martin is based at Culverden, North Canterbury and said there's about 70 Filipinos working on local dairy farms and without them, farmers would really struggle.

Ms Davie-Martin said she hadn't heard of any cases specifically, but was not surprised.

"I had heard of Filipinos having to pay a lot of money to get here through agents in the Philippines, but I had no idea about falsified documents."

She said she was not surprised because they were so desperate to better their lives, they would probably do whatever anyone suggested.

She said information was filtered to her through the grapevine.

"My understanding is there's huge fees being paid to other Filipinos mainly in the Philippines, but I think there have been some in New Zealand as well."

"What we have found is that they have their own support network and they're very strict about how Filipino behave in the community because they don't want their name tarnished.

"We find we've got a few older guys... sort of 40s or early 50s, and they seem to kind of take charge and if someone's talking about leaving a job, or isn't working hard enough, they go in and sort of mentor them and try and help them to be the best that they can be."

Culverden is just over an hour out of Christchurch. She said it was hard to attract young New Zealanders to work there.

She employs a Filipino couple who are now into their seventh dairy season.

She said they were extremely dedicated workers and many in the Filipino community go onto to further their careers once in New Zealand.

"Most of them now have brought their families. In our community, they're going even further than that. We've just had one on Master Chef [who came second] last night.

"We've had another Filipino family buy a local tea rooms and takeaway, so they're advancing their careers here in all sorts of ways."

Immigration New Zealand said it had discovered a number of Filipino visa applicants have provided false documents in support of a visa application.

It said that would be considered before it made decisions on the applications.