Fijian seasonal workers to NZ to be discussed

Immigrant seasonal farm workers pick and package strawberries. Photo / 123RF
Immigrant seasonal farm workers pick and package strawberries. Photo / 123RF

The future of the arrangement that allows Fijian seasonal workers to come to New Zealand is likely to be discussed when Prime Minister John Key holds talks with Fiji's Frank Bainimarama.

Key confirmed on Monday that the Fijian prime minister would arrive in New Zealand on Wednesday for his first official visit.

They'll be holding talks in Government House in Auckland after the formal welcoming ceremony on Saturday, before going to Eden Park to watch the Bledisloe Cup match together.

Diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Fiji were severely strained by the 2006 coup that brought Mr Bainimarama to power, but they've thawed since democratic elections were held in 2014.

In December of that year agreement was reached for Fiji to re-enter the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and permission was given for 30 to come to New Zealand.

Bainimarama might want an increase in the quota.

"Certainly, if he raises it we will be having a discussion," Mr Key told reporters.

"There is a demand for them and they are good workers."

Key paid his first official visit to Fiji last year, which was marked by an undiplomatic outburst by Bainimarama at an official function.

He berated New Zealand and other countries for criticising Fiji, but despite that Mr Key invited him to visit New Zealand.

Key doesn't think anything has changed when it comes to their respective views about the coup.

"This is a guy who undertook a military coup, he believes what he did was right and disagrees with New Zealand's and Australia's perspective on that," Mr Key told reporters after confirming Mr Bainimarama's visit.

"If he wants to come and relitigate that I can't stop him, but as far as I can see he is never going to change his view that he was justified in what he did, and we aren't going to change our view that we don't agree with people assuming authority through the barrel of a gun."

Bainimarama's visit ends on Sunday.

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