HONIARA (Solomon Star/ Radio New Zealand International/ Pacific Media Watch): More jobs could be made available to Pacific Island workers in the construction and fishing sectors of New Zealand, the delegation from New Zealand attending last week's PACER Plus trade negotiations in Apia has offered.
The new jobs will be in addition to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme New Zealand currently offers to unskilled workers from the Pacific.
Confirmation of the new jobs offer was disclosed by the Pacific Islands' Lead Spokesperson at the PACER Plus talks, Joseph Ma'ahanua, the acting permanent secretary for foreign affairs and external trade in the Solomon Islands.
Trade officials attending the Apia negotiations say New Zealand's offer is quite remarkable, since the offers are for work classified as 'semi-skilled' or tradespeople like plumbers, builders, electricians and so on.
Such an opportunity will arise when the New Zealand Government launches its Canterbury Rebuild NZ$50 billion programme next year.
Other opportunities exist in the country's fishing industry, especially working as crew in New Zealand-based fishing fleet.
A delegate told IB Online that New Zealand's new job schemes will start next year under a pilot programme involving workers from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
Ma'hanua says what remains now is for New Zealand to put its offer in writing.
Wellington was hard pressed to offer something new in light of Australia's decision two months ago to remove limits to the number of Pacific workers that work there under its Seasonal Workers Programme, as well as to widen the industries they can work in from horticultural to include agriculture and hospitality.
More pressure came just this week from Samoa's acting Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo when he opened the current PACER Plus negotiations and urged Wellington to match Canberra's offer.
Speaking at a Pip Fruit Industry conference in Wellington last week Samoa's Prime Minister has welcomed signs that there could be more jobs for Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi extended his gratitude for the continued commitment to the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.
Tuilaepa said Samoa has always wanted an expansion of the scheme to other sectors to fill labour gaps in large scale government projects such as the Christchurch rebuild.
"We view it as leaders of the labour supply countries as a great, one of the great assistance that the government of New Zealand provides for the economic development of our small economies."
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