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Tonga RSE

Introduced in 2007, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme is a policy that facilitates the temporary recruitment of additional workers from overseas (to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops) by New Zealand employers in the horticulture and viticulture industries to meet local labour shortages, particularly during peak harvest times.


RSE  workers can stay in New Zealand for up to 7 months in any 11 month period. However actual times may vary depending on the needs of the employer. There are up to 9,000 RSE places available to overseas workers per year.


Tonga has been part of the RSE programme since its inception in 2007. In 2015, a revised Inter-Agency Understanding (IAU) was signed between the New Zealand Government and the Tongan Government in support of New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Policy. The IAU set out the arrangements to facilitate access of Tongan nationals to seasonal work in the horticulture and viticulture industries under New Zealand’s RSE Work Policy.

Map of new zealand

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Rasy’s Contracting

South Pacific Seeds NZ

Please note that links to individual RSE Employer websites have been set up where these are known. Simply hover over the name of an RSE Employer to see if a link has been activated.

Tonga has been and continues to be the second largest sending country for RSE with 1,800 Tongan RSE workers entering New Zealand in the year ending June 2017. Since 2007, Tonga has contributed more than 10,855 RSE workers to the New Zealand horticulture and viticulture industries.


The following table provides a summary of the number of Tonga workers who have been part of the RSE programme dating back to 2007

RSE Tongan workers are recruited for a range of different work including planting, maintaining, harvesting, or packing crops by employers in the Horticulture and Viticulture industries in New Zealand, with some workers employed in more specialised roles, including forklift driving, and quality control management in the pack house (link to Workers Testimonials section). Tongan workers are known to be hardworking, highly productive, motivated and reliable workers.


“They’re (Tongan RSE workers) here to work, they’re a happy race and have the right attitude... they’ll do the work with a smile - Big Softies, they’re strong and hard working...” says Alan Dobbie, Wai West Horticulture Ltd, Nelson.


Richard Lenton, Kerifresh Ltd, Kerikeri said; “Kerifresh has been using RSE workers via TongaWorks since the RSE scheme’s inception. Our Tongan workers now form the backbone of our seasonal labour.”


Almost 40 employers have recruited workers from Tonga which shows how much they are valued by New Zealand Employers. Tongan workers are mostly employed in the Nelson-Tasman region, the Hawkes Bay and the Bay of Plenty.


View the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Policy. English

View the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Policy. Tongan

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