Fruition Hor­ti­cul­ture

Recog­nised Sea­sonal Em­ployer

The Orchardist - - Contents - Pre­pared by Sandy Scar­row

A num­ber of re­views of the pro­gramme and feed­back from RSE em­ploy­ers, their work­ers and of­fi­cials from both New Zealand and par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries in the Pa­cific have all been ex­tremely pos­i­tive. Ac­cord­ingly, MFAT has de­cided to con­tinue with the pro­gramme sub­ject to some mi­nor changes. In this ar­ti­cle I re­view the de­liv­ery of the first phase of the RSE Worker Train­ing Pro­gramme, known as Vakameasina, and dis­cuss the pro­posed changes.

Cur­rently (Novem­ber 2017), Fruition Hor­ti­cul­ture (BOP) Ltd (the in­cum­bent con­trac­tor) is in con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion with MFAT for the de­liv­ery of Phase II. It is ex­pected that af­ter these ne­go­ti­a­tions are fi­nalised Fruition will be con­tracted for de­liv­ery for an­other five years.

CON­TEXT

It is worth re­view­ing why we have the RSE scheme. It is easy to for­get that in 2006, New Zealand was at ‘full em­ploy­ment’, there were sim­ply not the work­ers avail­able to har­vest or prune crops. The hor­ti­cul­tural and viti­cul­tural in­dus­tries were des­per­ate for sea­sonal labour to un­der­take these tasks. A work­ing group es­tab­lished by Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand in­ter­faced with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and oth­ers to de­velop a so­lu­tion. The so­lu­tion was per­fect: right on our doorstep are a pool of some of the world’s poor­est peo­ple who could ben­e­fit from the op­por­tu­nity to work in New Zealand. Fig­ure 1 shows the rel­a­tive GDP per capita for New Zealand, Aus­tralia and the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries in the Pa­cific.

The RSE scheme has en­abled some of the un­der­priv­i­leged peo­ple from these Pa­cific na­tions to come to New Zealand, earn money to send home and learn skills and gain knowl­edge from their time in New Zealand. The pro­gramme is in­ter­na­tion­ally highly re­garded with the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion re­fer­ring to it as an ex­am­ple of “world best prac­tice” in terms of labour mo­bil­ity.

MFAT looked at the RSE scheme as a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to add to the skills and knowl­edge gained by also pro­vid­ing fund­ing for the work­ers to en­gage in Vakameasina in their down­time.

To date, the Vakameasina pro­gramme has been de­liv­ered to 6,383 work­ers. The cur­rent con­tract pro­poses that a fur­ther 441 work­ers are trained, a com­mit­ment that will be met with the in­flux of work­ers com­ing to har­vest sum­mer­fruit and thin and prune ap­ple, ki­wifruit and man­darin or­chards.

Work­ers have at­tended from all the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries of the Pa­cific, with the great­est num­ber of at­ten­dees com­ing from Van­u­atu. Fig­ure 2 pro­vides de­tail of the per­cent­age of work­ers at­tend­ing Vakameasina by par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try.

Fig­ure 2 shows the per­cent­age of work­ers who have come into New Zealand from the Pa­cific since 2007 matched with the per­cent­age of those who have at­tended Vakameasina. The pro­por­tion of work­ers at­tend­ing Vakameasina is largely in pro­por­tion with the num­ber of work­ers who are com­ing into New Zealand from the var­i­ous Pa­cific na­tions. The ma­jor ex­cep­tion to this is the num­ber of work­ers from Van­u­atu, many of whom have missed out on for­mal ed­u­ca­tion in their coun­try. As a re­sult they are quick to ac­cept an op­por­tu­nity for learn­ing when it is of­fered. Fig­ure 3 shows the per­cent­age of work­ers com­ing from the var­i­ous par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries since RSE be­gan com­pared

Fig­ure 2. Vakameasina par­tic­i­pants by par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try

Fig­ure 3. Per­cent­age of work­ers from Pa­cific par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try ver­sus per­cent­age of work­ers at­tend­ing Vakameasina

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