Samoans for Christchurch rebuild
Three local carpenters are heading to Christchurch, New Zealand.
Recruited under the Christchurch Rebuild Programme, Faleupolu Tavita, of Vaivase, Pinati Titae of Satupaitea and Aukusitino Niko of Vailu’utai were chosen from a pool of applicants for the 12-month programme.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi congratulated the men during a meeting at his office.
Unlike the Regional Seasonal Employment Scheme where many locals go to New Zealand or Australia to pick fruits, the programme requires qualifications and a clean police record.
“Apple picking is different,” said Tuilaepa. “In this programme you need three things to take with you. First you must have good English, qualification in carpentry and lastly common sense…a lot of people come with Bachelors and PhDs but do not have common sense.”
According to Tuilaepa, about 84 people applied for the opportunity. Only twenty of them were approved by Cabinet for interviews.
After the interviews were conducted in English the number dropped down to five more applicants left.
“From that five one of them was in prison,” said the Prime Minister.
“He was TKO from that and the other one said his wife had just given birth and couldn’t go…Samoa is the only country that has this sickness called homesick.”
The remaining three got the green light to leave next week for Christchurch.
Tuilaepa reminded that people with bad police records should not bother applying as they will not be picked.
“The same with those who cannot speak proper English,” he said.
“The biggest challenge we have is alcohol. Our policies are if you go overseas and do something stupid you will return home and you will forever be banned from these programmes for the sake of our country.”
A positive aspect of the programme would mean a little more cash in hand for the families of the new recruits.
According to Tuilaepa, each carpenter will be paid about more than $40tala an hour.
He pointed out that plus overtime, each carpenter will be able to get more than $2000tala a week to send over to their families.
For the sake of their families in the island, Tuilaepa encouraged the men to send money over to buy cars and build two storey houses for their families rather than getting drunk and getting into trouble.
The youngest of the three recruits is Pinati Titae of Satupaitea and Vailoa Palauli.
At the age of 26, Mr. Titae is the leading hand carpenter for Swalger Design and Build company at Tanumapua.
The former student of Vailoa College said his field of expertise is no coincidence.
“My father is a carpenter and so is my older brother,” said Mr. Titae.
“The only difference between me and my father and brother is I was fortunate enough to go to school and study in this field. My father never got the chance to finish school and get a better education and the same with my brother…so this is a huge accomplishment for me and for my family.”
A graduate of the Australian Pacific Technical College, Mr. Titae owes his achievements to his family.
“They made the sacrifices for me,” he said. “My family invested in me and paid for my education. Being here means a lot to me knowing that their sacrifices had not gone to waste and I can carry on with my family talent.”
Mr. Titae is the son of Titae Taito and Taueu Faleao.
Some of the works he had done while working with local construction companies include the new Don Bosco hall in Salelologa and the Salei’a Bridge in Savai’i.