Air New Zealand flight NZ993 departed Apia, Samoa for Auckland carrying around 150 Samoan workers who will take up seasonal employment in New Zealand for the first time since borders closed in March 2020.
The flight was the last of five Air New Zealand services that have transported more than 700 workers from Apia to Auckland over the past six weeks under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) programme.
The airline has transported workers on three charter and two commercial services between Samoa and New Zealand to support a sustainable seasonal labour force for orchards and vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury and the upper South Island. Once the workers have completed two weeks of managed isolation, they will disperse around New Zealand to support the country’s horticulture and viticulture industries for the next seven months.
Air New Zealand’s Country Manager Samoa Karen Gatt said the airline’s team based at Faleolo Airport in Apia was excited to see so many travellers and their families arriving at the terminal again when the RSE programme kicked off in January.
“We’re happy to be able to support both the New Zealand and Samoan Governments and New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc with the RSE programme which connects people with jobs and New Zealand with much needed seasonal workers. I’m really proud of our team which has worked hard to ensure these flights have run smoothly.”
New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa HE Dr Trevor Matheson has worked closely with the RSE industry and Air New Zealand to enable the workers to travel to New Zealand.
“Despite the challenges of working through a pandemic and the associated travel and MIQ restrictions we needed to consider, the joint effort of all parties involved has made this a smooth and successful operation,” he commented.
“New Zealand is pleased to have been able to support Samoa’s participation in the RSE scheme for the 2021 season.”