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New Zealand’s Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme

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The New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme: A Sustainable Solution to Address Agricultural Labour Shortages


Agriculture is a cornerstone of many economies around the world, providing sustenance and economic opportunities for countless communities. However, the sector faces various challenges, one of the most prominent being seasonal labour shortages. The Recognised Seasonal Employer (“RSE”) Scheme has emerged as a notable solution, providing a structured and sustainable approach to address the labor demands of the agricultural industry. In this article, we will delve into the RSE Scheme, its objectives, operation, benefits, and its impact on both host countries and participating workers.

What is the Recognised Seasonal Employer (“RSE”) Scheme?

The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme is a unique labor program that originated in New Zealand in 2007. Designed to meet the seasonal labor requirements of the country’s horticulture and viticulture industries, the RSE Scheme aims to facilitate the temporary employment of overseas workers during peak seasons.

Under the RSE Scheme, New Zealand employers in the agricultural sector are permitted to recruit workers from specific partner countries on a seasonal basis. These partner countries are typically from the Pacific region, including Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Samoa, among others.

Objectives of the RSE Scheme

The RSE Scheme is guided by several essential objectives, which contribute to its success as a sustainable solution for agricultural labor shortages:

  1. Address Seasonal Labour Demands: The primary objective of the RSE Scheme is to bridge the gap between labor demand and supply during peak agricultural seasons. By facilitating the entry of overseas workers, New Zealand can ensure that crops are harvested and maintained efficiently.
  2. Alleviate Poverty in Partner Countries: The RSE Scheme extends opportunities to workers from the Pacific region, where economic opportunities may be limited. By allowing workers to earn an income through temporary employment, the scheme contributes to poverty reduction and economic development in these partner countries.
  3. Foster International Relations: The RSE Scheme fosters positive diplomatic ties between New Zealand and its partner countries. It encourages mutual cooperation, understanding, and cultural exchange, strengthening regional ties and solidarity.

Operation of the RSE Scheme

The RSE Scheme operates on a carefully structured framework, ensuring a fair and transparent process for both employers and employees. Here’s how the scheme typically functions:

  1. Accredited Employers: New Zealand employers must be accredited by the government to participate in the RSE Scheme. To achieve accreditation, employers must meet specific criteria, including demonstrating a commitment to the welfare and working conditions of the recruited workers.
  2. Bilateral Agreements: New Zealand establishes bilateral agreements with partner countries to enable the recruitment of workers. These agreements outline the terms and conditions, wages, and other provisions to protect the rights of the workers and employers involved.
  3. Seasonal Employment Contracts: Once accredited employers identify labour requirements, they enter into seasonal employment contracts with workers from partner countries. The contracts define the terms of employment, including wages, working hours, and accommodation arrangements.
  4. Limited Stay and Return Home: The RSE Scheme operates on a seasonal basis, allowing workers to stay in New Zealand for a specified period, typically ranging from a few months to several seasons. After their temporary work stint, the workers return to their home countries.

Benefits of the RSE Scheme

The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme has proven to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for all stakeholders involved. Some of the notable benefits include:

  1. Economic Gains for Host Countries: Host countries, such as New Zealand, experience significant economic gains through the RSE Scheme. By ensuring timely crop harvesting and productivity, the agricultural sector remains competitive and contributes to overall economic growth.
  2. Poverty Reduction in Partner Countries: For workers from partner countries, participating in the
  3. RSE Scheme offers a pathway out of poverty. The income earned during their temporary employment can significantly improve their living standards and support their families back home.
  4. Skill Development and Knowledge Transfer: Participating workers gain valuable agricultural skills and knowledge through their experience in the RSE Scheme. This acquired expertise can be shared with their communities upon returning home, enhancing local agricultural practices and promoting sustainable development.
  5. Cultural Exchange and Understanding: The RSE Scheme fosters cultural exchange and understanding between workers and the local community in the host country. Through this interaction, both parties gain insights into different cultures, promoting mutual respect and appreciation.

Impact of the RSE Scheme

Since its inception, the RSE Scheme has had a profound impact on agricultural industries and participating workers. Some notable impacts include:

  1. Enhanced Agricultural Productivity: The RSE Scheme ensures that crops are harvested and maintained effectively, mitigating the risks of labor shortages. This, in turn, leads to increased agricultural productivity, providing economic stability to the host country.
  2. Reduced Reliance on Undocumented Labour: Prior to the RSE Scheme, some agricultural industries were heavily reliant on undocumented labour. The scheme has provided a legal and regulated pathway for meeting labour demands, reducing the need for illegal employment practices.
  3. Empowerment of Pacific Island Communities: The RSE Scheme has empowered Pacific Island communities by providing access to formal employment opportunities and associated financial benefits. This has contributed to poverty reduction, improved education, and healthcare in these communities.
  4. Positive Community Engagement: Participating workers often form strong bonds with local communities, positively contributing to the social fabric of the host country. These connections foster a sense of inclusivity and promote diverse cultural integration.


The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme has emerged as a successful and sustainable solution to address seasonal labor shortages in the agricultural sector. By facilitating the temporary employment of workers from partner countries, the scheme ensures timely crop harvesting, enhances agricultural productivity, and fosters economic growth. Moreover, the RSE Scheme offers participating workers an opportunity to improve their livelihoods and contribute to poverty reduction in their home countries. As the program continues to evolve, its positive impacts are likely to extend further, benefiting host countries, participating workers, and fostering stronger regional ties.

Contact us at IntraSource if you have any questions. If you like this article please click the like button, share within your favourite groups and, you can also leave comments here.

Disclaimer: This article is exclusively written and published by IntraSource for information purposes only. The information provided here is sourced from “Immigration New Zealand” but, it should not be considered as legal or professional advice. Immigration requirements and processes may change, so it’s essential to consult professionals before making decisions or applications.

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