Informal talks have started which could see Samoa’s Recognized Seasonal Employees (R.S.E.) receiving automatic permanent residence in New Zealand.
The matter was raised by Minister of Industry, Commerce and Labour, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, while on tour in Hawke Bays last month to check on Samoans employed as R.S.E. workers in the region.
He had informal talks with New Zealand’s Minister of Pacific People and Associate Minister for Courts and Justice, Aupito Su’a Sio and Kris Faafoi Minister for Civil Defense and Commerce and Consumer Affairs, as well as N.Z’s Associate Immigration Minister.
Lautafi says that the informal approach is to initiate the “thinking tanks from both governments” to explore a more permanent arrangement that will take into account contribution by Samoan R.S.E. workers to New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries need for labour during their picking season.
“There is no question about the need for the R.S.E. scheme,” he added.
“But taking into consideration our exclusive annual permanent residence quota of 1,100 which is not filled every year, the thinking is to use our R.S.E. workers to fill the quota eliminating the need for these people to go through the permanent residence application process.”
“Some of the annual quota requirements are quite difficult to meet for many of the applicants.”
“And if the R.S.E. employers and farmers are satisfied with the performance of our R.S.E. workers, that can be taken into consideration into granting permanent residence in New Zealand for these workers.”
“If the farmers in New Zealand are also willing to offer permanent employment to the Samoan workers who are highly recommended to work as full time employees why do they need to put their names in the Quota.”
Lautafi hopes that the issue will be included in bi-lateral talks in Apia between Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his counterpart Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in March.
Prime Minister Ardern is set to lead a delegation across the Pacific to witness first-hand the recovery after tropical cyclone Gita.
Ms. Ardern will take a smaller-than-usual contingent with her to Tonga, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands for the annual prime-ministerial trip in March.