Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Tongan RSE workers stranded in Auckland as border remains closed

The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme started in 2007 to allow horticulture and viticulture industries in New Zealand to recruit workers from the Pacific for seasonal work, including workers from Tonga.

The liaison for the Tongan RSE workers, Sefita Hao’uli, told John Pulu around 700 Tongan RSE workers are stuck in New Zealand since the Tongan government closed the border due to Covid-19.

More than 20 workers are stranded in Auckland after a repatriation flight to Tonga was cancelled due to the latest outbreak. The Tongan nationals are staying with family and receiving help from The Fono, and some will go back to work again and wait for the next flight.

Mr Hao’uli said many of the Tongan RSE workers will likely spend their third Christmas here away from their family, and it’s impacting greatly on their mental health. Watch the full interview with John Pulu above.

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