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Work opportunity excites Tuilaepa

KEY TALKS: PM Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and NZ Prime Minister To’oolesavili John Key in Apia last week. [photo: Ron Kubik]

Samoan workers could travel to Christchurch to aid the city’s rebuild following top-level talks by the two countries’ leaders.

Prime Minister To’oolesavili John Key and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi met in Apia on Wednesday, and discussed a potential expansion of the Recognised Seasonal Employer Strategy, which enables Samoans to access seasonal horticulture and viticulture work in New Zealand.

The leaders discussed “whether there might be opportunities to expand the scheme on a limited basis for trades, and that’s a possibility in Christchurch”, Mr Key told media. Tuilaepa said he hopes Samoan tradespeople, including many who have qualifications from Australia, could gain experience in New Zealand before returning home “to provide a better service to our people”. “I’m talking about plumbers, electricians, welders ...” said Tuilaepa.

“So far I have been informed that New Zealand is looking at reconstruction needs in Christchurch and trying to balance it up with the needs there and also how it is met, because it’s no use bringing people in and to not have the opportunities available to them, so they are still looking at that possibility.” Tuilaepa says his government also has a role in lining up employers willing to take on workers under the scheme.

“Last year after the Commonwealth [Heads of Government] Meeting in Perth, I flew down to Nelson and met up with several employers then, and arising out from those meetings, about 50 more people were added on.” He says the New Zealand government needs to ensure workers participating in the scheme have their immigration papers processed without unnecessary delays.



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