Solomons MP welcomed
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.