Seasonal worker joint venture comes full circle


What began as a joint venture between a Kiwi employer and his Pacific Island seasonal worker has entered a new phase with the Vanuatu based JV company exporting merchandise to New Zealand.<!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_6988" align="aligncenter" width="540"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-6988" alt="Tanna Famas’ organic virgin coconut oil at meat outlet Neatmeat in Auckland’s Ponsonby." src="" width="540" height="435" /></a> Tanna Famas’ organic virgin coconut oil at meat outlet Neatmeat in Auckland’s Ponsonby.[/caption]


Tanna Famas’ directors Jono Bushell and Jason Kennard established the JV with Vanuatu seasonal worker and farmer Seth Kaurua a couple of years ago. Now the company has begun exporting virgin coconut oil and soap from the country’s pristine Tanna Island to some of New Zealand’s upmarket stores.

Deli café Zarbo in Auckland’s upscale Newmarket and retail stores such as NeatMeat and other retail stores in Blenheim (Burleigh Deli Café and Health Foods) and Christchurch are already selling the company’s merchandise. Mr kennard says they have also exported a commonly served food item in Vanuatu called Simburo. Tanna Famas has in addition supplied cassava and kumara to a food manufacturer, bought the finished product and sold it in New Zealand.

They want to start by selling Simburo initially to the ni-Vanuatu Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme  workers who are working on farms in different parts of New Zealand and eventually introduce it to the local restaurants. Simburo was also introduced during the Fine Food 2014 Show in Melbourne last September. Mr Bushell says the company has a stock of virgin coconut oil in Auckland’s warehouse ready for packaging and distribution to different buyers in New Zealand.

Tanna Famas has 25 employees and most of these employees are either former RSE workers or under apprenticeship as potential RSE workers to New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries.  The potential RSE workers undergo training for 6 weeks and the supervisor in the farm, who is formerly a RSE worker, is teaching them the basic farming techniques and the right attitude toward work. Their 7-hectare lease land grows coffee and fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cassava, kumara, kava, lemon grass, among others.

Mr Bushell, Mr Kennard and Mr Karua presented their successful and noteworthy JV initiative at the pre-SIDS (Small Islands Developing States) Private Sector Partnerships Forum in Apia on August 30 last year. The initiative was also showcased at the third Seasonal Workers Programme Conference hosted by the Australian Government on the Gold Coast last year.

Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (<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.

For more information email Manuel Valdez,