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Home in sight for some seasonal workers

The long wait to come home to be reunited with families for more some Samoan seasonal workers in New Zealand is nearly over.

For more than a hundred of them, the opportunity to return to be with their families took one further step last week when they were flown over on a special repatriation flight which landed on Saturday.

Tuputala Ioane, from Manono, is among the seasonal workers being quarantined. 

He told the Samoa Observer he can hardly wait to see his family.

“We’ve gone through a lot just to get back home," he said. 

"I was one of those who were stranded in New Zealand not knowing what to do due to the lockdown. 

"It would’ve been nice if we had finished work and there was no coronavirus but there was nothing we could do.

"While we waited to come home, everything was just discouraging to see and it made us want to return home even more.”

Mr. Ioane confirmed that he and other seasonal workers from Manono are under quarantine.

“We’re all  happy to return home and hopefully we will be cleared of the virus after this quarantine.”

He added that there are many more seasonal workers who are still stuck in New Zealand and they hardly wait to board a flight to Samoa.

Today, having spent a week in mandatory quarantine, Mr. Ioane knows he is seven days away from reuniting with his family.

The number of seasonal workers in quarantine was confirmed by the Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O) of the Ministry Health,  Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen, during the Health of the Nation Programme on Thursday night.

“About half of the passengers were seasonal workers who worked in New Zealand," he said of the people who flew over. “And the rest are mostly families."

The seasonal workers and other passengers are being quarantined in 15 quarantine sites. 

Only seven passengers were granted permission to quarantine at home after the Government approved their request for self isolation, Tagaloa confirmed.

Earlier this week, Pick Hawke’s Bay General Manager, Anthony Rarere, said a group of 70 Samoan seasonal workers have been unable to get a flight to Samoa. Mr. Rarere said many Samoans remain stranded in New Zealand, across a handful of orchards in the Hawke’s Bay.

“They are all still working, albeit significantly reduced hours (due to a lack of available work and/or weather). Most have been here since November 2019, so they are tired, cold, and homesick,” he said.



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