Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

RSE workers create a slice of the Pacific in art project

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Avatar photo
John Pulu | Presenter/ Reporter/Director

It’s the big apples of the Hawke’s Bay, shining a light on the apple industry and the people behind it.

An idea was planted three years ago to have big fiberglass apples as artwork to celebrate the success of the horticulture industry.

Arts Inc. Heretaunga, in the Hastings District, advocates and promotes local art in the community. Andy Heast the chair of the organisation is pleased their art project received seed funding from the local council and other sponsors to allow them to create the works

“The Big Apple project is 20 apples, giant apples by 20 different artists and they are all from Hawke’s Bay that are positioned around Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere,” Heast says.

The Pasifika Senikau group were picked out of 47 artists to paint their very own apple canvas and leading the group is Aporosa Bulinitarawereierenauvula.

Aperosa with fellow RSE workers next to the Pacific apple. Photo: John Pulu / Tagata Pasifika

“We thought that we name this apple, ‘The Value of the Pacific Apple’,” Bulinitarawereierenauvula says.

He is here on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme with workmates from Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji. The group used the opportunity to share their journey – leaving their homes and families behind to work in New Zealand.

When comparing apples with apples the Pacific one stands out. It features icons that connect to their home in the Pacific, such as the hibiscus flower, the kava bowl and tapa cloth.

“It took us like three weeks of working hard persevering through the night and so many hours and we were able to come up with this beautiful art of work,” Bulinitarawereierenauvula says.

The workers turned artists drew inspiration from the apple orchards of RJ flowers, a local family business that’s grown fruit here since 1906.

John Evans leads RJ Flowers Ltd and refers to his workers as their boys.

“I call them our boys. I mean obviously they’ve got a family at home, but they’ve become part of our family,” Evans says.

“The last few years have been a huge challenge for everyone and the respect that I have for what sacrifices that they’ve put out there have been huge you know and it’s all in aid of thinking of others.”

Aperosa Bulinitarawereierenauvula. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

Here they are more like family rather than employees. In 2016 Evans and his team fundraised to help rebuild homes in Fiji impacted by cyclone Winston.

Bulinitarawereierenauvula is now into his eighth season in the RSE having arrived as a farm hand, he is now in a managerial role.

“RSE is not something just to come to NZ or here in Hawke’s Bay and earn your money and go back to your country there’s a lot of things that… show us that we are part of this community,” he says.

His wife and two young kids back home in Fiji can enjoy the fruits of his labour.

“I’ve done a lot of things which…I would not be able to accomplish back home; extend the house, build a more cyclone resistant house and as now my kids are going to school, I am also supporting them on their education.”

Bulinitarawereierenauvula will return home this month after staying on a little longer due to the covid-19 lockdown. He goes but leaves behind a lasting legacy.

The apples will be up for sale at a public auction on the 26th of October during the Hawke’s Bay arts Festival.



Stay Connected

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive daily updates direct to your inbox!

*we hate spam as much as you do