Vila Times

RSE workers from Ambae keen to go back to NZ

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Dozens of ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers are among those forced to leave the Ambae island, and they’re keen to get back to work on New Zealand orchards to relieve their plight.

Robin Tuku represents about 50 seasonal workers from the western side of Ambae who’ve financed homes, small businesses and community projects with their New Zealand earnings, reports RNZI.

He and his family are staying in Port Vila as he waits for news of a departure date for the new season’s work. Most of the other seasonal workers were evacuated to Santo.

He said their families could be away from Ambae for up to a year and the seasonal workers were keen to return to New Zealand to be able to defray the extra expenses involved with evacuation.

“Most of us, to be honest, … are speechless. We just don’t know. It’s like starting a new page in life because everything we’ve invested in, like house, or whatever … some of the workers they are depending on loans for houses, small businesses.”

Mr Tuku said the workers normally returned to their jobs in Central Otago during the second week of October but the volcano’s rumblings have interrupted things.

He said their home area on the western side of the island had been declared a “no-go” zone although he’s not sure what damage, if any had been caused by the outpouring of sulphur and ash.