RSE employer-worker JV a first for Pacific


An employer and a worker of New Zealand’s successful RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme have established the first ever joint venture of its kind in the Pacific.<!--more--> The JV was established on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu last week.

[caption id="attachment_5930" align="alignleft" width="284"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-5930" alt="Manuel Valdez, Jono Bushell and Lionel Kaluat" src="" width="284" height="213" /></a> Manuel Valdez, Jono Bushell and Lionel Kaluat[/caption]

South Island grape grower company Vinepower’s partners Jono Bushell and Jason Kennard have teamed up with RSE worker Seth Karua to form the Tanna Famas Company (Tanna Farmers Company). <b>Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest</b> (<b>PT&amp;I</b>) New Zealand offices, which has been associated with the RSE scheme since inception, and Vanuatu’s Commissioner of Labour have together assisted in the formation of the JV.

The enterprise is the culmination of a relationship that began in 2009, when Mr Bushell visited Vanuatu as a delegate of PT&amp;I’s inward investment mission into the country. PT&amp;I NZ Head of Investments and Acting Trade Commissioner Manuel Valdez and Vanuatu Labour Commissioner Lionel Kaluat were present at the formation of the company in Tanna.

Mr Bushell said Tanna Famas would first produce coffee and coconut oil as its primary business. The workers would benefit from the work ethic and professionalism that RSE work has taught them in New Zealand, he said. Already, the farmers have planted some 7 hectares of coffee plants and have supplied to Tanna Coffee. They hope to market the green beans to New Zealand in the near future.

The company will also produce high quality coconut oil for niche markets in New Zealand. Equipment for production is already in Port Vila and is to be shipped shortly to Tanna, which is when production and exports would begin. Vinepower employs 250 workers from the RSE scheme many of whom are from Vanuatu.

PT&amp;I regularly conducts financial literacy seminars for RSE workers in New Zealand, in which they are given tips on wisely transferring money, saving and investing. The latest such exercise was conducted in March, as was reported in <b>Pacific Periscope</b>. Speaking to Pacific Periscope from Tanna, Mr Valdez told Pacific Periscope, “It is heartening to see a RSE worker put not only his capital but also the skills he has learned in New Zealand into a JV with his own employer in his native country.”