Tuvalu News

Pacific officials’ secondment to New Zealand under SPP project

April 13, 2010

Kiribati and Tuvalu government officials have been in New Zealand for almost three weeks on their secondment with the New Zealand Department of Labour as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer’s scheme project called the ‘Strengthening Partnership Programme’ (SPP).

The secondments were made possible when the New Zealand Department of Labour allocated funding from an assistance fund administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This funding allows the Department to provide technical and capacity building assistance to Pacific states such as Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, and Vanuatu who have facilitated agreements with the New Zealand Department of Labour to strengthen their ability to participate in the Recognised Seasonal Employer policy. An agreement with the Solomon Islands will be finalised very soon.

Two senior officials from Kiribati, Ms Batetaake Tatoa and Ms Makin Tonganibeia, along with Tuvalu officials Mr Petaia Meauma and Mr Tefiti Malau undertook this secondment experience. It is an opportunity created under the SPP where the Pacific officials temporarily leave their current role in the Islands and transfer to New Zealand for an agreed period of time.

Head of Immigration New Zealand Nigel Bickle says the nature of the secondments was tailored specifically to meet the needs of each Pacific state. “This opportunity provides these visiting officials with a wealth of experience, and an excellent chance to learn more about how RSE works from a New Zealand perspective”.

While in New Zealand, the visiting officials attended training in communications and New Zealand employment law for their professional development. They also met with the people from the New Zealand Department of Labour, RSE employer organisations and other government departments to build their knowledge and look at how the RSE scheme could grow and develop.

They also had the opportunity to travel to other regions and met with New Zealand employers who have employed RSE workers in the past and may consider recruiting workers from Kiribati or Tuvalu in the future.

Ms Makin Tonganibela, a labour officer for the Kiribati Ministry of Labour and Human Resources described her secondment experience as a great opportunity to build relationships and market Kiribati workers to potential employers.  “I am glad that part of this secondment is to allow us to see the process our workers go through, when they arrive in New Zealand and how they settle and cope with seasonal work”.

Mr Tefiti Malau, a labour officer for the Tuvalu Department of Foreign Affairs and Labour agrees that the secondment provides him a great opportunity to learn, to excel in the communications area and strengthen his people skills by maintaining good working relationships with the New Zealand RSE team. Such secondments often lead to lasting professional relationships and friendships.

“This secondment gives them the opportunity of acquiring new skills to be brought to the Islands”, says Mr Bickle. Secondees often acquire valuable experiences whilst on placement and a generally broader outlook and this adds value to their own professional development and the work they do in the islands.

“No doubt that the skills and knowledge gained by these officials can be put into practice once they return to their original countries,” adds Mr Bickle. “These skills can then be communicated across their teams and other departments within their countries to improve and enhance the skill sets of other staff”.

Mr Bickle says this is a good learning experience for these officials as most are from a very small pool of staff, none of whom have had any significant exposure to the type of systemised administrative structures employers have come to expect in New Zealand. This secondment would be an opportunity for them to observe and learn. 

The officials were seconded for three weeks and they will return to their homelands this weekend.

Mr Bickle says the secondment partnership with the offshore Government under the RSE is a first. He will be looking for other ways to work collaboratively with Pacific Island countries to support and improve the scheme.

Source: New Zealand Department of Labour


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