The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Milner Tozaka is currently in New Zealand as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) Ministerial Visit from 26 -31 March 2017.
While in New Zealand, the Minister will meet with the Minister of Immigration, Hon Michael Woodhouse, Minister for Trade, Hon Todd McClay and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Murray McCully.
The Minister and delegation will also meet with other senior government officials and also travel to farm sites to meet with employers and Solomon Islands workers.
The RSE Ministerial visit is important for Solomon Islands and as one of the 9 participating countries in the RSE scheme, the Minister’s visit demonstrate the commitment and the engagement that Solomon Islands have in the RSE scheme.
Minister is expected to discuss issues pertaining to labour mobility, acknowledge the New Zealand government for providing the opportunity for Solomon Islands workers under the RSE scheme as well as seek the support of employers to recruit more Solomon Islands workers.
The program includes visits to both South Island and North Islands and to meet the Employers at various farm locations. Solomon Islands workers are located at Wairarapa, Nelson, Blenheim, Napier, Hastings, Hawkes Bay areas and the Bay of plenty, among other key areas where our workers are.
Currently, there are 611 Solomon Islands workers in New Zealand working in the horticulture and viticulture industry. Solomon Islands has benefited from the RSE scheme since it formally join the programme in 2010.
In the 2016 season alone, about SB$23 million was injected into the economy. The benefit saw workers remitting money to their families to pay for school fees and meet other basic needs and also returning workers start their small businesses, pursue further education, build their houses or start other community programmes.
The RSE Labour Mobility programme offered by New Zealand is currently the Solomon Islands flagship and it is one of the most successful stories.
The Minister is accompanied by Mr David Kaumae, the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Ministry of Commerce, Labour, Industries and Immigration, Mr Jack Waneoroa, Chief Trade Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Mr Ellison Mason, Senior Desk Officer, Pacific Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade and Mr Simon Tarifiu, one of the RSE agent representatives.
Her Excellency Joy Kere, the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand also joins the Minister during the visit. The trip is funded by the New Zealand government under the RSE Strengthening Pacific Partnership (SPP) programme.