Migrants’ welcome day lauded

Supporting the communities needs . . . Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group hosted an migrants welcome day at St Paul's Church last Thursday. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

The Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group (OPICG) is aiming to make migrant workers’ ‘‘home away from home’’ a little easier.

OPICG partnered with Oamaru Meats last week to host an overseas migrant welcome day to assist workers with the transition from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand.

Oamaru Meats’ eight new employees, from Tonga and Fiji, were introduced to key members of the community to ensure they knew where to turn when they needed support.

Among those involved were Oamaru police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Waitaki Migrant Support and Newcomers Network, Stronger Waitaki, Te Runanga o Moeraki, and people from key ethnicity groups, church leaders and lawyers. The day covered a range of topics, including immigration conditions, New Zealand driver’s licences, financial literacy, health systems and wellbeing.

OPICG general manager Hana Halalele said the group had wanted to facilitate the programme for a while, after understanding the issues from migrant workers and employers.

‘‘Some of them, it’s their first time in New Zealand — they’re learning things along the way,’’ Mrs Halalele said.

‘‘It was like ‘what can we do as a preventive measure to help support our local employers, but also support our new migrants?’.’’

The community had a responsibility to help its migrant workers and their employers, and she was thrilled with the success of the first event.

‘‘I’m delighted that Oamaru Meats have come on board.

‘‘We’re really pleased with their support of our programme and I think developing that partnership is really important to kind of help them with what they’re trying to achieve, but also acknowledging that the migrant workers actually need a lot of help.’’

Immigration New Zealand Otago and Southland relationship manager Autumn Servatkova said she was really impressed by the initiative.

‘‘I think it’s a fantastic initiative. It’s really heartening to see people welcomed into the community so wholeheartedly and authentically,’’ Mrs Servatkova said.

Oamaru Meats payroll/ production support Vanessa Pearce said the day was a fantastic way to introduce their new workers to community leaders and help them settle in. She was grateful to the OPICG for its support

The company hired Epineri Logavatu as its Pasifika liaison officer to help as a ‘‘middle man’’ between the company and its migrant workers, as he understood their needs.

The eight migrant workers were among the holders of 21 critical visas Oamaru Meats had been approved for. Another 40 working visas had also been accepted.

Mrs Halalele hoped to facilitate other introduction events for migrant workers, not just from the Pacific Islands, and she was grateful to the organisation’s support at the event. There was also the opportunity for other ethnicity or community groups to use the framework and run similar introduction sessions as well, she said.