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Recognised Seasonal Employer cap raise Friday, 11 December 2015

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

For the 2015-16 season the current cap of 9,000 workers has been increased to 9,500.Introduced in 2007, the RSE scheme allows the horticulture and viticulture industry to recruit workers from overseas - mostly from the Pacific Islands - for seasonal work to supplement their New Zealand workforce. 

The horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry and aims to increase exports to $10 billion by 2020. Seasonal workers from the Pacific are an important part of a sector that employs around 50,000 people across New Zealand.

The INZ manager for RSE, Matt Hoskin, says that as with every other immigration policy the RSE policy is centered on New Zealanders being given priority for jobs, meaning employers can apply to recruit overseas workers only when there are no suitable New Zealanders available to do the work.

INZ, in consultation with the Ministry of Social Development and relevant industry partners, determines the number of workers that employers can recruit from overseas. Unless employers can show they have pre-established relationships with workers from other countries, they may only recruit workers under RSE policy from the following eligible Pacific countries: Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru – and since 2014, Fiji.

The RSE scheme is regarded as world-leading and plays a key role in supporting industry growth in New Zealand, while providing the Pacific workers with invaluable experience and the chance of being able to send money back to their communities at home.

New Zealand recognises the importance of labour mobility, including the RSE Scheme, to the countries of the Pacific that are working with New Zealand to conclude negotiations on the region-wide PACER Plus free trade agreement.

A recent survey of employers shows that the RSE is making a significant contribution to business growth with 95 per cent of employers stating that the benefits of participating in the scheme outweigh the costs.