Tongan seasonal worker thrilled to be going home at last

A Tongan RSE worker is "thrilled and excited" that he'll soon rejoin his family at last after a year and three months in New Zealand, unable to return home because of Covid-19 border restriction.

Sefita Veamatahau says the news that he and dozens of others are heading home tomorrow is indescribable.

“I’m thrilled and I can’t explain my feelings. I’m very excited to go home,” he says.

"I have a wife and a son that I haven’t seen in a very long time.”

Veamatahau has spent two Christmases away from home since arriving in New Zealand in October 2019, and is looking forward to spending time with his family. 

He's one of seventy Tongan seasonal workers who will be on that flight to Tonga tomorrow.

RSE Spokesman, Sefita Hao’uli, says it's the biggest number of Tongan RSE workers on a repatriation flight. 

“What I did on this flight was specifically ask the Tongan government if I can have seventy seats in the hope that they will give more than 28 seats like the last time. 

"Surprisingly they agreed only towards the end of last week,” he says. ​

But although the flight is good news for returning RSE workers, Hao'uli acknowledges it's a concern for New Zealand employers.

Tomorrow's flight means seventy fewer workers for New Zealand employers in the horticulture industry, especially as Tonga is unable to provide more workers to replace them, says Hao’uli.

“As of today, Tonga has not been able to participate in the re-commencement of RSE workers.”



(L) Sefita Veamatahau's wife, Nade, son and Sefita