RSE Worker Arrival Relief for Growers

The first seasonal workers coming to New Zealand as part of the country's one-way travel bubble with three Pacific countries have arrived.

On Monday, 154 Ni-Vanuatu workers arrived at Christchurch Airport at 6 am from Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila.

Seasonal Solutions chief executive Helen Axby said 83 of the 154 Ni-Vanuatu workers who came to New Zealand through the recognised seasonal employer (RSE) scheme had left for Central Otago later the same day.

The workers skipped the mandatory two-week isolation in MIQ and dispersed across the district to complete five days' self-isolation at their places of work.

They were also required to receive a Covid test on day zero and day give.

To bypass MIQ, the workers had to have at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and those who were not fully vaccinated had to get their second shot in New Zealand.

Axby said the workers' arrival would make a massive difference to Central Otago's horticulture and viticulture sectors and was not a moment too soon.

This time of year is the beginning of the spring season, so things will only get busier from here.

Labour shortages had beset the horticulture and viticulture sectors before the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the globe, but borders closures had intensified the problem.

That had led orchardists and vintners from across Otago to join the call to import RSE workers - particularly since the nations like Vanuatu were among the few places that remained Covid-19 free.

Allowing the RSE workers into New Zealand marked the first economic-based border exemption announced by the Government requiring mandatory vaccination and self-isolation, following the emergence of the Delta variant.

Samoan and Tongan workers are expected to join the Vanuatuan's on October 12.