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Tongan fruit pickers in NZ request concessions for items to be brought home after their work assignments


Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 07/04/2017


The Tongan Fruit-pickers in New Zealand have requested the Prime Minister – Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva for a consideration of any forms of concession to be applied to their cargo shipped to Tonga from NZ after their working assignments.


This includes parcels, boxes and containers filled with several necessities that would be of great use in their daily living.


The issue was raised when the Prime Minister visited Kerikeri yesterday.


Tonga’s Liaison Officer to the Fruit Picking Scheme – Sefita Hao’uli spoke to Radio Tonga News from Nelson, NZ.


“Whether it would be possible to consider some of the concession because they pointed out that amongst the things they bring back with them the furniture and piece of equipment for the families to use, there are also tools of commercial value WHICH help develop their plantations and some of them have jobs as motor mechanics also there are home renovation or carpentry work to be done. So there request was mainly to consider those items, as being items of necessities that can help develop Tonga and in their view it should be considered as a category that could be duty free or some other concessions to be applied. The Prime Minister’s indications that he will take this up in the highest possible level, it means that they will likely to get an answer from the Government any time soon”, says Sefita.


Hao’uli says the Honorable Prime Minister also reaffirmed the Farmer in Kerikeri of more work to be done to reduce problems caused by Tongans in their farms.


Kerikeri’s farm employs about 80 Tongan Fruit pickers each year.


“There was mutual agreement between the Tongan Government and the employer to terminate the employment of 8 workers whom we found are unsuitable for further employment. Their productivity was questionable, their behavior was unacceptable and the rest I think most of our community have heard and understand. The Prime Minister’s visit was mainly to provide the assurance that this employer needed to ensure that there is a continuity of work and that relationship isn’t damage further by what we’ve seen out of these workers” he says.


Tongan fruit-pickers in NZ picked and sometimes packed apple, lemon, oranges, strawberry and blueberries.


The Prime Minister today met the outgoing Foreign Minister of NZ – Rt Hon Murray McCully.


Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva – Minister of Internal Affairs is the second Prime Minister to visit farmers and temporary workers in New Zealand after Lord Sevele of Vailahi.


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