New Zealand Horticulture Takes Conference To Samoa

7th May 2015
Prime Minister Tuilaepa presents gift to Nigel Bickle
This year’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Conference will be held in Samoa, the first time the conference has been hosted by an RSE partner nation. The conference, on July 9 – 11 in Apia, will be jointly hosted by Horticulture New Zealand and the Government of Samoa. It is for the employers, government agencies and RSE communities who support the RSE programme. RSE brings about 9000 workers from nine Pacific Island states to New Zealand every year to work for the 120 horticulture and viticulture recognised seasonal employers registered to be part of the programme. It supplements a total horticulture Kiwi workforce of 50,000. Horticulture New Zealand has previously hosted the conference every year in New Zealand. “The Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi attended our conference in Wellington last year and issued an invitation for us to hold the conference in Samoa. Which we are pleased to accept,” HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock says. Holding the conference in the Pacific reflects the partnerships that have developed with Pacific island governments and communities through the RSE Scheme. “I am thrilled my invitation has been accepted,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa says. “The RSE programme is very beneficial to Samoa and continues to have a positive impact on our sending communities and workers’ families. Although the conference will be based in Apia, we intend to showcase a lot more of the country and give our visitors a taste of what Samoa has to offer. This will only build the positive relations we have already developed. It is a great opportunity.” The conference theme “RSE: It Is Just The Beginning” reflects the added value the programme brings to the Pacific and the New Zealand horticulture and viticulture industries. “The conference will also look at how RSE has expanded the total horticulture workforce. It is still a ‘Kiwis First’ programme, because the additional staff mean we can employ more Kiwis,” Peter says. Horticulture is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, valued at more than NZD$6 billion. The conference will also discuss how the funds earned and skills developed by RSE workers can be used to build further self-reliance in the Pacific. Recent natural disasters in the Pacific, the tsunami in Samoa in 2009 and Cyclone Pam this year, have highlighted the way RSE helps to build resilience into Pacific Island communities. “Despite the devastation in Vanuatu many workers have opted to stay in New Zealand to earn money to fund the rebuild. We know that this is a big call and admire the resilience and determination of those workers. “This is only one of many areas the conference can look at and build on for the future, after all this is just the beginning” said Peter. The Conference is expecting over 200 participants from New Zealand and RSE member states.