Solomons MP wel­comed

Te Puke Times - - NEWS / ARTS - By AMY DI­A­MOND

The Solomon Is­lands Prime Min­is­ter may have trav­elled more than 3000km to get to the Bay of Plenty but when he ar­rived in Te Puke he was greeted with a taste of home.

Prime Min­is­ter Rick Houenip­wela spoke to more than 50 Seeka work­ers from the Solomon Is­lands at Seeka’s head of­fice last week.

Two groups of work­ers per­formed tra­di­tional Solomon Is­land dances for the Prime Min­is­ter and his del­e­ga­tion. Houenip­wela said the pur­pose of his visit to New Zealand was to talk with the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to dis­cuss a range of top­ics, in­clud­ing labour mo­bil­ity.

He said there were just un­der 700 sea­sonal work­ers in New Zealand, fig­ures he wanted to “at least dou­ble” in the next two years.

The Prime Min­is­ter said Solomon Is­lan­ders were sim­i­lar to New Zealan­ders be­cause “they work and they work and they work”.

“I’m sure you all love it here,” he said be­fore mak­ing a lap around the room to greet most of the work­ers.

Seeka chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Franks said the visit was about cel­e­brat­ing the work­ers from the Solomon Is­lands.

He recog­nised the com­mit­ment and sac­ri­fice the work­ers made trav­el­ling to and liv­ing in New Zealand and said they “com­ple­mented the lo­cal work­force”.

Ear­lier in the day, the Prime Min­is­ter was wel­comed to Tau­ranga by Ngati Rang­inui dig­ni­taries at San­ford Fish­eries in Sul­phur Point. San­ford Lim­ited chief ex­ec­u­tive Volker Kuntzsch spoke to the del­e­ga­tion about the prac­tices of the com­pany.

Houenip­wela asked ques­tions about the quota sys­tem in New Zealand, recre­ational fish­ing and the prod­ucts the com­pany made. He was given a tour of the fac­tory and was treated to a morn­ing tea.

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