The Government is investing in new integrated advisory services for farmers, foresters and growers in the latest budget released today.
From 4 October, RSE workers from Vanuatu can begin arriving in New Zealand and from 12 October RSE workers from Samoa and Tonga can begin arriving.
“This will provide much needed certainty for our growers as they gear up for summer and autumn harvesting,” says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
People arriving under the scheme must meet strict health conditions, including requirements to be vaccinated with at least one dose pre-departure, the completion of a period of self-isolation on arrival, and the returning of two negative Covid tests on Day 0 and Day 5. Employers are expected to provide the self-isolation facilities.
If workers have only received one dose of the vaccine, they are expected to complete their vaccination after they arrive in New Zealand.
“Despite the challenges of a Covid world, which has constrained the number of RSE workers who could come through MIQ, the Government has remained committed to the RSE scheme,” O’Connor says.
“The horticulture sector is worth over $6 billion to New Zealand exports. Having people coming to our shores through the RSE scheme to harvest and prune is essential to us maintaining our economic recovery from Covid-19, a recovery which is very much export-led.
“We are also aware of the positive impact the scheme has on our Pacific neighbours with the benefits of the hard work done by RSE workers flowing back home from our shores.”
The commencement of quarantine free travel for RSE workers forms a pilot scheme to test systems in preparation for a broader and safe reopening of the borders.
“We will closely monitor this first stage of one-way quarantine-free travel as we want to expand eligibility for quarantine-free entry to New Zealand from these countries and Tokelau when we can be sure it is safe to do so.”
O’Connor says he wants to thank Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu for their co-operation as well as the horticulture and viticulture sectors for their collaboration.
Up to 14,400 RSE workers normally come through New Zealand each year, with approximately 10,500 being in the country at peak harvesting times pre-Covid. As at August 2021, approximately 7,000 RSE workers were in the country.