Talking business with Anthony Haas

Pastoral care

Solomon Islands flag

In 2016 in the Wairarapa, there were 51 Pacific Island seasonal workers, of whom eight were women. All workers were employed by JR Orchards in Greytown. Craggy Range in Martinborough also employs Pacific Islanders, they bring in workers from Vanuatu. From Nov-April they had 10 workers: a couple led the group. In June the couple were to return with some men. Solomon Islanders who have been working under the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme are predominately employed in the Hawkes Bay and Bay of Plenty regions. However, there are smaller pockets of workers found in other parts of the country.

During the first few seasons of the RSE scheme, Solomon Islanders were not officially part of the scheme, instead they were privately employed by farmers. However, in 2010, when Solomon Islands officially became part of the RSE scheme, the number of workers increased. To date there are nearer to 500 workers, a small number in comparison to Vanuatu’s 2000 workers each season.

The seasonal workers and local hosts face pastoral care challenges says Lois Aburi Kusilifu, Solomon Islander wife of a Wairarapa pastor. In March 2015 she wrote a dissertation for her Otago University Master of Indigenous Studies on the experiences of the Solomon Islands Seasonal Workers under the RSE scheme in New Zealand. On Wed 20 July from 7.30 pm she will speak at an open meeting in Mrs Lois Aburi Kusilifu Masterton to the Wairarapa branch of the NZ Institute of International Affairs, in the Wairarapa Sports House on the corner of Chapel and Jackson St, elaborating on the pastoral issues and expanding on the impact that RSE has had on the horticulture and viticulture industries.

Solomon Islands impact on horticulture and viticulture

Among reasons for implementing the RSE scheme were the shortage of seasonal labour for the horticulture and viticulture industries, and the acknowledgment that improving temporary access to Pacific Islands Forum nations, contributed to New Zealand’s broad objectives of encouraging economic development, regional integration and stability.

The Taranaki Daily News said on 2 January 2014 that since the implementation of the employment scheme the RSE has helped orchard owners to raise production by 32%, and that the industry could not have grown without the RSE workers.

Lois Ahuri Kusilifu draws attention to how the scheme has benefited its workers. In a survey carried out in 2014 for Solomon Island workers, the scheme has benefited their immediate and extended families. However, the survey showed that each season, “issues of concern expressed by workers, were accommodation, lack of social interaction, recreational activities and opportunities for many to attend church”.

Worker programmes

Although there are other worker programmes in New Zealand for seasonal migrants, such as the Variations of Conditions (VOC), Worker Holiday Scheme (WHS) and Working Holiday Extensions (WHE) the most common programme for the Solomon Islands seasonal migrant is the RSE scheme. Greytown can use a range of seasonal worker programmes – and could improve pastoral care and other aspects by using strengths within the community.


Talking business with Anthony Haas Accomodation in Greytown Should you want to visit quaint Greytown and you are impressed…where will you stay? A local realtor’s take is “A Country Village with Metropolitan Style.” You may wish to lay your head within the village confines, close to the action, or venture into the countryside on a farm? After you choose from almost 50 possibilities that we found, how difficult is it practically to access a place? Computer literacy is an optimum method, as that allows booking ahead. Some places will require full payment to guarantee your stay however. We began online, who doesn’t these days? Destination Wairarapa Information for Greytown: Under Backpackers only the 150 year old Greytown Hotel came up at $80.00 a night with $10 extra for a breakfast it allows walk ins or online booking similar to a YHA reservation. A good series of photographs on site. Bed n Breakfast accomodation: of five places listed – most userfriendly and economical (starts at $80.00 for the Rustic cabin) extra comfort costs $140.00 – Under the Totara Trees, Waiohine Gorge, which offers wheelchair access, also outdoor BBQ and option of having pets there, so long as they remain outside An interesting option right in Greytown is the historic listed villa The Saddlery built 1868 that starts at $179.00 up to $240.00 includes full German breakfast. Online booking is prompt and easy for all venues listed on Destination Wairarapa. Holiday Houses are five, one being on a farm, one requiring booking through the Masterton I-Site. Our generic google search came up with: Greytown holiday homes, accommodation rentals, baches … Results 1 – 32 of 32 – Greytown NZ holiday homes. Greytown accommodation – self catering holiday homes, houses, baches, beach houses, vacation rentals. But on foot or in a car and making a decsion to stay we found a possibility for how to uncover information: A visit to Greytown Information Centre uncovered, Jason’s Travel booklet that suggests Greytown is a unique Victorian village and well worth a visit, also mentions Papawai Marae was the first Maori Parliament. But finding accomodation listings are difficult which is ironic! The Greytown Information Centre has been proactive and taken upon themselves [as of March this year], to produce a simple accomodation list: Name of place, address, contact telephone number and capacity as well as cost as of March 2016 and web addresses. They list no fewer than forty seven possibilties including newly-opened main street motels. There are also local providers who have left leaflets with colour photos and information to be uplifted or browsed. So if you are strolling by and on impulse decide to stay, the Greytown Information Centre list may prove be a good hard copy resource.

Talking business with Anthony Haas Business growth for Greytown Learning from experience. From both an economic and employment point of view, the opening of the JNL sawmill and laminated veneer lumber plant in 1992 by then New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger was an “absolute godsend” for the Wairarapa says then Masterton Mayor Bob Francis. In the recently published “Bob Francis, a story of my town”, the community leader says “Lets face it, we weren’t in good shape before they came along, we desperately needed something to fill the void created by the closure of the Waingawa freezing works some three years earlier”. Bob Francis, alongside others with Japan New Zealand business experience, worked to make the Juken Nissho (JNL) sawmill and laminated veneer plant idea into a reality. Attract people with skills Lessons can be learnt from success and failure frankly reported by Bob Francis in the story of his town. Masterton and its neighbourhood. The region could benefit from growth. Forward looking locals talk of the town’s potential. They see the region with land based successes and water based and other prospects. They talk of the local need to attract people with skills. There are positive signals, some visible in a close reading of the Bob Francis story. Other writers and publishers can help mobilise ideas for development – complementing multi-sector initiatives, including arts, sports and other features of tourism. Central government has regional development programmes, as Steven Joyce and other ministers periodically say. Central and local government plans can complement each other. Wairarapa mayors, local members of Parliament and Wellington regional council representatives can advocate for aspects of ten year and annual plans. Asian convenience food markets Research institutions such as Massey University, and its vice chancellor Steve Maharey, suggest Asian convenience food markets are open for local business. Established food businesses, not only dairy, beef and sheep meat, wine, pizza and other food services offering a taste of New Zealand can be grown. What can be achieved with horticulture lines such as apples – fresh and processed? What more can be done with mushrooms, with organics or well-seasoned vegetables for the Asian ethnic domestic and export markets? Service industries, needed for such enterprises, and for accommodating people with skills the region can attract, offer other business opportunities – from housing to ageing in place personal services. The basic infrastructure for Wairarapa business matching and development is in place. Contemporary political, business and community leaders should display the political will to turn big and small business ideas into reality. In the 2016 Talking business series we looked for the political will and ideas for Greytown and its neighbourhood.