The launch of a new accommodation facility for Recognised Seasonal Employer workers is being celebrated in the Bay of Plenty.
The $6 million dollar facility, named Turanga Whetu, has been worked on for about four years so far, but is finally open to house 140 migrant workers in the peak kiwifruit season near Katikati.
According to Seeka RSE programme manager Tania George, the facility has been made to suit the cultural needs of migrant workers in New Zealand.
“Including communal areas where people can be together was really important to us. This place gives them a nice solid warm home to come here after their working day.
“Whether they are working the night shift in the pack houses here, or whether they are working day shifts in the packhouse and orchards, this is a nice space to come back to.
“In the pacific islands, they are used to communal living, so it is nice for the RSE workers to have their friends in the rooms with them and living in the same spot, rather than wherever we can tuck them around the countryside.”
Chief executive officer Michael Franks says the completed facility is the country achieving their commitment of offering a quality living standard for the RSE workers.
“These people are leaving their communities over in the pacific islands to come and work for us. In doing so, they are committed to coming here and working hard.
“But on the other side, we’ve got a commitment to pay them well, treat them well, and give them a nice, warm and caring place to stay.
“This is us setting our commitment, and achieving it.”
Following the Kawanga Whare, a grand opening of the facility was held with Western Bay of Plenty Mayor, James Denyer, National Party MP, Sam Uffindell, and candidates Tom Rutherford of National and Pare Taikato of Labour in attendance.
The grand opening concluded with performances by Samoan RSE and local Iwi representatives.
“We are very proud of the building and the construction teams have done a great job in delivering a great facility,” says Michael.
“But if you think about it, it is only a building, it’s just bits of wood and tin really, what is important to us is that it is symbolic of the relationships we want to have and the strong relationships we are building with local ManaTangata Whenua and our RSE employees.”
Chairman Fred Hutchings says the company is “founded on relationships, both with our growers, who by selecting Seeka, are choosing a partner that values a high-quality labour force with the ability to produce excellent results, and relationships with our team of inspirational people both from our home here in New Zealand and those who come to us from abroad”.
Fred also spoke on the name of the facility stating that “Turanga Whetu” refers to Star Base and living under one sky.
“This location provides a brilliant view of the Southern Cross a constellation which connects RSE workers with their home abroad and their secondary new home here in New Zealand.”
Workers living at the new RSE facility will start moving in from October.