Hastings district is to enter into a Friendship Agreement with Falealili district in Samoa to develop friendly relations and cooperation between the two districts and to promote and foster goodwill and understanding.
Hastings already has a relationship with the Falealili district, located on the island of Upolu in Samoa, through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers scheme.
The village of Poutasi, on the south east coast of Upolo, was one of the original RSE scheme villages working with the Yummy Fruit Company, and Hastings as a whole is the largest RSE employer in the region.
Last season, 150 workers from Falealili were employed in Hawke’s Bay.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said this agreement was particularly timely coming in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.
“Our horticulture industry has been seriously impacted by the cyclone – the devastation hit at the worst possible time as they prepared for harvest and the impact on their businesses and the regional economy as a whole is enormous.
“The RSE workers have already, and will continue to play a big part in supporting the sector’s recovery and this friendship agreement will help to foster new relationships and strengthen those we already have.”
Mr Apple’s regulatory affairs specialist Gary Jones said the company was the largest employer of Samoan workers in the world, outside of the Samoan Government.
“We have had a close partnership with Samoa since the start of the RSE scheme in 2007.
“This friendship agreement reflects our long term commitment to Samoa and a desire to grow the benefits of the scheme for both Samoan and Hawke’s Bay communities.”
One of Poutasi village’s high chiefs Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale welcomed the agreement as an acknowledgement of the long-standing relationship between the districts, and as a potential platform to create more connections.
“It’s about two communities coming together in the realisation we have both been good for one another for many years and that this friendship should continue and perhaps be extended beyond the seasonal work programme.”
It is proposed that the agreement to come into force in the week of May 22, 2023, and for it to be signed by the Mrs Hazlehurst and the Council of Chiefs at a ceremony in the village of Poutasi.
At the same time Mrs Hazlehurst, Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle, RSE employers from Hastings and Hawke’s Bay, and representatives of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and New Zealand Apples and Pears will be attending the WE Summit 2023 in Apia from May 22 to 25.
5 May 2023
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