The Bay of Plenty situated in the upper east coast of New Zealand is about to live up to its name because it is becoming one of the fastest growing areas in New Zealand with a noticeable influx of city slickers migrating there for job opportunities and lifestyle changes.
But it’s not just the city folks looking to establish new homes in the sleepy towns around the Bay of Plenty. The town of Tauranga is getting a large dose of Pacific flavor injected into its changing demography - particularly of the Samoan kind.
Key Skills Recruitment is a recruiting company in New Zealand that has recently hired 100 Samoans from the quota to fill the growing demand for tradespeople in Tauranga through a programme they’ve developed called “Malaga Fou”.
The New Zealand government announced that Tauranga will receive $230 million to build 35,000 homes and two treatment plants as part of their nationwide plan to ease housing pressures. As a result there are hundreds of skilled and unskilled jobs that need filling.
Samoan New Zealander, Ati Aaifou-Olive, whose parents come from the villages of Saoluafata and Levi, Saleimoa, is the Tauranga branch manager for Key Skills recruitment and he will be facilitating an open session here in Apia next week to attract locals who have been successful in the quota scheme.
Aaifou-Olive has been instrumental in building the programme that will help Samoan workers migrating under the NZ – Samoa quota scheme settle into the Bay of Plenty. According to Aaifou-Olive, Samoan migrant workers typically settle in Auckland but he is hoping that Samoans will look to the rural areas of New Zealand as destinations.
“Auckland is so expensive now, there seems to be a trend with those who come on the quota, go straight to Auckland because of family but I’m not sure how our people are going to afford to get their own house there,” he said.
“There is much more affordable housing in Bay of Plenty out in Rotorua, Whakatane, Tokoroa and some parts of Tauranga. We want people not to fail when they get to N.Z. and our goal is to make sure they have the full support to settle them in with no financial stress.”
Mr. Aaifou-Olive has been in the recruitment business for 16 years and he and his family also swapped the city life in New Zealand for a more relaxed lifestyle in rural Tauranga. During those 16 years, he dealt with many workers from the quota scheme and heard one too many stories of the challenges they faced financially.
These challenges not only impacted their success in New Zealand but also their ability to support their families in Samoa which is why he has worked to develop a unique work ready programme to help new Samoan migrants settle into their new surroundings.
“When I look back at all the quota people I have helped with jobs, majority of them have really come here with only the support of family, with no other pastoral care available to them.
“We want them to connect with the wider New Zealand community to make their settlement feel like they belong to New Zealand society and be comfortable to live here. We want show them how to do all the basics right, like paying all the bills and the services that are available to them here in NZ, basically how to live a good life in N.Z., with minimal stress.”
As a first generation immigrant, Aaifou-Olive understands the struggles his parent’s generation went through and he is motivated by a desire to make things easier for future migrant Samoan families.
“What motivates me to help our people is seeing those who I have dealt with already fail in ways they should have not failed, our company have dealt with people from Asia, Europe, and the U.K. and most of them are doing well and have set up their families future for success. I don’t see why those coming from Samoa should not be able to get ahead as well.
“I was given every opportunity to succeed here in N.Z., and that started from parents migrating here in the 70’s, it’s time for me to give our people from Samoa their opportunity to come here. Also our people need to add value to New Zealand society as well. Businesses and sporting organization are going to benefit from the hard work our Samoan people will give to them.”
Aaifou-Olive is an active community leader in the Bay of Plenty and he has collaborated with local M.Ps, Ministry of Education, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, local charities and local iwi to develop a settlement programme for their Samoan recruits,
“Our goal is to sustain the settlement of Samoa workers here in Bay of plenty and partner with others to make Bay of Plenty feel like their home. Our local M.P. Simon Bridges is embracing this program ensuring Tauranga is welcoming to those migrating to our region.
Everyone who comes to the Bay of Plenty must volunteer as player or volunteer in the club in a small or big capacity. Our people will understand and build relationships with the wider community. The more connection people have the more help they get if they are in need.”
With the skills and worker shortages in the Bay of Plenty, Key Skills Recruitment is hoping to recruit Samoans from the quota scheme needed in a variety of areas such as forestry, construction, engineering, manufacturing and logistic sectors. They will be holding an open session to provide information at the Hotel Insel Fehmarn on Tuesday, 12th December from 2pm-5pm.