Calls for Pacific and NZ Governments to work together to get stranded seasonal workers home

There are calls for Pacific governments and New Zealand to work together to get stranded seasonal workers home.

It’s believed there are more than 9000 RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employers) workers in the country – most of them from the Pacific.

While Immigration NZ has extended expired visas for Pasifika seasonal workers until September 25 and those workers can move to other employers if their contract ends, there aren't a lot of extra jobs around.

Pacific Response Coordination Team chairman Pakilau Manase Lua, says around 1000 RSE Tongan workers are in limbo in New Zealand and many are using their savings to survive.

“The government of Tonga have basically said, 'Yook you are alright, you are in New Zealand - they will look after you'," he told 1 NEWS.

"It’s not good enough to be here on a wing and a prayer so the Tongan government also needs to take stock and look after their people."

Mr Lua says he understands Tonga can only quarantine 50 people at a time, so that means it will take nearly a year just to do the RSE workers.

Many of the New Zealand companies are doing what they can to support the workers, even if their contracts have expired with them.

T&G Global Head of Growing, Ben Smith, says they have 600 Pasifika workers but 360 of them should have returned home by now.

“We’ve been working with them to try and keep work going wherever possible,” he said.

That includes being moved into different jobs, being deployed to other parts of the country and job sharing.

Mr Lua says he believes the Pacific and New Zealand governments need to have a conversation on how to get these workers home.

And Mr Smith says T&G Global will work with the Government and industry to get the workers repatriated.