Hon Dr Nick Smith MP, National List MP based in Nelson &
Erica Stanford MP, National’s Spokesperson on Immigration
Date: 26 March 2021
MPs call for family reunion for RSE workers
National MPs Erica Stanford and Nick Smith today called on the Government to make specific provision for Pacific RSE workers to see their families during a visit to Nelson orchards.
“Hundreds of RSE orchard workers from the Pacific have been separated from their families now for over a year. These Pacific countries are COVID-free and pose no risk to New Zealand. We need a solution that will enable them to return home after the current harvest and to give them priority to be able to safely return for the next crop,” says Ms Stanford, the National’s Immigration spokesperson.
“Nelson is very dependent on these hundreds of hard-working Pacific workers to support our hugely important horticultural industry. I have spoken with many who are hugely distressed by being separated from their families and young children for so long. It is affecting their mental health and wellbeing. We owe it to them to find a safe way to enable them to get home after the harvest and reunite with their families. We should be able to do this in a way that also enables them to return for next year’s crop by reserving an allocation of space in New Zealand MIQ facilities or by establishing a Pacific bubble with those Pacific countries that are COVID-free,” Dr Smith says.
“National strongly supported last year’s blunt lockdown and closed borders that helped control COVID-19, but we now need a smarter and more sophisticated approach,” says Dr Smith.
“We do need to be cautious of people travelling from higher risk countries where COVID-19 remains widespread, but for COVID-free countries in the Pacific, we should be more flexible. We need to make the Pacific a priority so that we can keep industries like horticulture earning for New Zealand but also enabling these workers time with their families.” Ms Standford concluded
Media Contact: Nick Smith 027 547 2314
Authorised by Nick Smith, 544 Waimea Rd, Annesbrook, Nelson