Seasonal workers

Seasonal worker Hiko Lynch died defending wounded friend from gang member

Hiko Lynch, 23, was stabbed with a 24-centimetre knife, thrust upwards into his abdomen, which pierced his heart. He collapsed onto the ground where he died, in the early hours of June 20 last year.

The details of that night recorded by police have been released publicly for the first time as the gang member, Auckland man George Junior Pikaahu, 34, originally charged with murder, admitted a charge of manslaughter for his part in Lynch’s death.

Tonga eruption: Seasonal workers hit hard - report

The eruption triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages, resorts and infrastructure. It also knocked out communications for the South Pacific nation of about 105,000 people.

Three lives were lost as a result of the disaster.

A report by a group of researchers has revealed that the breakdown of communications early in the aftermath of the disaster meant many seasonal workers in Aotearoa and Australia were "left in the dark, not knowing whether their families were safe or not."

Tonga eruption: RSE workers arrive in NZ

An Air New Zealand flight left the Tongan capital Nukua'lofa on Tuesday and arrived in Auckland with passengers and cargo from the island.

RSE official Emma Sherwood said this was the first contingent of workers - 32 of them - from the Kingdom since the volcanic eruption and tsunami more than two weeks ago.

"They are going to a number of employers in Hawke's Bay and Nelson as we come into the pip fruit harvest," Sherwood said.

"But they will likely be given the opportunity to work in other sectors and different crops that come to harvest as well."

Stranded Tongans better off in NZ, says RSE scheme official

The flight was scheduled to leave Auckland on Thursday.

Air New Zealand postponed its repatriation flight to Tonga because of the volcanic ash clouds from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption last weekend.

Seventy Tongan seasonal workers were among those booked on that flight, with majority of the labourers returning home after as long as two years. Some have not heard from their families since Saturday.

There are 800 Tongan labourers in the Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme.

Tonga unable to repatriate stranded RSE workers till 2022

Until the arrival of a Covid-19 case on the latest repatriation flight from Christchurch Tonga had been free of the virus. The Tonga government has stressed that its priority remains trying to keep the virus out of the country.

But Ministry of Internal Affairs chief executive Fotu Fisiiahi said the government was committed to bringing home the horticultural workers, who came to New Zealand as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme.

"But at a time that we think will be safe for all," he said.

Plea for way home for hundreds of Tongan seasonal workers

Before the pandemic, more than 14,000 horticultural workers a year were coming to New Zealand to take part in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, mostly from Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

But some of those workers have been caught in New Zealand when their home countries closed their borders against Covid-19, and have been unable to fly home.

Regional Seasonal Employer liaison officer Sefita Hao'uli said some of the Tongan RSE workers are looking at their third Christmas stuck in New Zealand and separated from their families.

Absconding seasonal worker posters under review after backlash

Around 12,000 seasonal workers have come into Australia over the past year from Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Solomon Islands but of those, more than 1000 have absconded.

However, the government's campaign, which featured posters, faced serious public backlash, with critics saying it created fear and shame among workers.

Bundaberg Pastoral care worker Jeff Smith said the campaign was one of fear.

"Every word on that thing is fear driven, there is no compassion," he told Pacific Beat.

RSE workers arrive in New Zealand

Aotearoa's borders have been closed since August due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

Travellers from Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Tokelau will now be able to travel to New Zealand without staying in MIQ.

The head of the Tongan group, Langi Fatanitavake says the move opens the door for family and friends to re-connect.

He says it also provides more security for RSE workers seeking employment.

Twenty-one Tongans arrived on Monday and travelled to Hawke's Bay to work on orchards.

Calls for a crackdown on labour hire companies 'poaching' Pacific workers

In the last 18 months, around 12,000 workers have come into Australia from countries such as Vanuatu and Samoa.

But how many have stayed in the jobs, they were contracted to do?

ABC Rural has been told more than 1,000 of these workers have absconded, with many poached by labour hire companies that are not licensed to do so.

What's going wrong?

Speaking to RN, Richard Shannon from Growcom said across Australia, farmers were reporting seasonal workers suddenly leaving their jobs.

Ardern announces RSE workers allowed one-way quarantine-free travel

In a post-Cabinet media briefing Monday afternoon, Ardern announced Cabinet had made the decision to allow Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from those countries to travel one way, without using MIQ.

The countries this would apply to reflected the fact all three nations had experienced very few cases of Covid-19, she said. Tonga had seen zero Covid-91 cases, Samoa just one, and Vanuatu had four - all those cases having been at the border with no community transmission.