Seasonal farm workers from the Pacific Islands region working in New Zealand’s horticulture sector under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are being taught to manage their earnings well and invest wisely as part of PT&I’s ongoing annual financial literacy programme for seasonal workers.
Last week, the Auckland offices of PT&I conducted a financial literacy seminar for some 60 seasonal workers from Vanuatu in the South Island’s Blenheim area.
Vanuatu sends more than 2500 seasonal workers to the country. Other countries that send seasonal workers are Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.
Jono Bushell, Director of Vinepower, a Recognised Seasonal Employer told Radio New Zealand in Blenheim last week that if workers do find work in Vanuatu, they would be earning less than US$2 an hour.
In New Zealand, he said, some workers could earn US$15 an hour and work 40 to 50 hours a week. “But then there’s the question of what to do with their savings.”
That is where PT&I’s financial literacy training programme has been trying to make a difference. Manuel Valdez, Head of Investments and Acting Trade Commissioner PT&I told the radio station, “We want them to save their money wisely and invest that hard-earned money when they go back to their home countries. So that’s why the seminar focuses on the financial literacy and at the same time giving them a list of investment opportunities.”
Workers are known to have returned to their home countries and invested in livestock farms, small enterprises and retail outlets, farms, petrol stations and even a bus service.
Vanuatu Consul General was also in Blenheim last week translating the financial literacy course content in the native Bislama to facilitate better understanding among the workers. Mr Kalotiti said, “PT&I has played a hands-on role up and down the country, and not just for the ni-Vanuatu.” Previous financial literacy seminars have been held in the Hawkes Bay, Hastings, Katikati, Kerikeri, Pukekohe, and Blenheim.