Mua Strickson-Pua and his granddaughter

Date: 1 May 2007

Auckland 9am: Kiwi employers want thousands more Pacific workers for their vineyards orchards.

The new seasonal worker scheme is now underway and will bring across from the islands five thousand people.

But while critics have bagged the scheme, Kiwi employer spokesperson, Jerith Verbake, says there's so much work here, they could easily take another five thousand. (listen)

Meanwhile island governments like Samoa are going to great lengths to make sure participants can't break the rules and abscond or overstay.

The CEO for the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Samoa, Auseugaefa Vaasatia Poloma Komiti, says there's too much at stake and they'll be monitoring the scheme carefully. (listen)

But the scheme continues to attract criticism and the spectre of the Dawn Raids of the Seventies.

Artist and musician Rev Mua Strickson Pua says while there is a benefit, there appears to be a double standard much like the times of the 60s and 70s labour shortage in New Zealand. (listen)

The participating nations are Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji and Tonga.

Labor's new measures follow the racist tradition of New Zealand's immigration laws. In the early 1960's, governments allowed strictly controlled migration from the Pacific in order to boost the pool of low-paid unskilled workers. Since then, Pacific Islanders wanting to join their families have been forced to struggle against bureaucratic intimidation, police harassment and summary deportation.

During the mid-1970s the Muldoon conservative government invented the term “overstayers” to stigmatise Pacific Islanders who had come to New Zealand to work but because of petty restrictions had failed to obtain work permits and visas. In 1976, many Pacific Island households became victims of “dawn raids” carried out by immigration officials accompanied by police with dogs, searching for people who had been declared “illegal” and subject to deportation. The history of the dawn raids still carries such strong memories for Pacific Islanders

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