News Item

​Warm welcome to the Bay of Plenty

News 18 Dec 2017

When New Zealand-born Samoan Ati Aaifou-Olive reflects on his life, filled with opportunity and people willing to lend a hand to help him achieve success, he counts his blessings.

His parents immigrated to Wellington the 1970s, with limited English and knowledge of the new country they had moved to, and worked factory jobs in Lower Hutt to support their six children.

Ati, now the Tauranga Branch Manager for Key Skills Recruitment says when his parents arrived in NZ, they hoped the school system would teach their children the necessary skills needed to get by in NZ.

“We were just so fortunate everyone we met along the way were always willing to help us when we needed it … I have done well for myself, and travelled the world with footy.

“But if it wasn’t for a lot of these people, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Ati says.

Acknowledging those people who helped the family thrive in NZ, Ati’s parents have always stressed how important it is to repay the favour, and to give back.

This desire to help others has driven the creation of a Key Skills Recruitment initiative Malaga Fou.

Key Skills Recruitment, which recruits employees for all roles within construction, engineering, logistics and management, recently hired 100 Samoans, who have acquired NZ residency through the NZ-Samoa quota scheme.

These soon-to-be Kiwi residents will fill the growing demand for tradespeople in Tauranga.

Nestled in the Bay of Plenty region, Tauranga is set to 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 and Ati has seen this as an opportunity to help both businesses find employees, and new migrants to find employment.

Having worked in recruitment for 16 years, Ati says he consistently hears stories of migrants arriving, with no settlement plan, no idea of what they will do, where they will live, and of local knowledge.

“I have seen people struggling and the system not working firsthand – we give them the opportunity to live in New Zealand with residency, but I feel we are often setting them up to fail,” Ati says.

Without providing adequate advice, education about NZ and the local environment, and accessibility to employment, people can end up on the benefit, living with multiple families in crowded conditions due to the cost of rent and financially struggling, he adds.

Malaga Fou will aim to prevent people from “failing” when they arrive in NZ, and to instead, flourish, achieve their dreams and add value to their community.

Ati is an active community leader in the Bay of Plenty and he has collaborated with local MPs, 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,” he says.

“Our local MP Simon Bridges is embracing this programme 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 sports 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.”

All of the organisations involved in Malaga Fou are willing to provide workshops, tours, education, or introductions for the Samoan migrants arriving in the New Year.

The first 50 migrants will arrive in February, followed by the remaining 50 in March.

Recently, Ati along with Eli Faamatau and Flaui Muaulu of SYNCD travelled to Apia where they spoke to the Samoan workers destined for NZ.

“We advised for the men to come first, work for three months while they stay in shared accommodation near their workplace, to save some money, so they can then bring their families over,” Ati explains.

Ati will conduct weekly visits to worksites to check on the new residents, while Eli and Flaui will look after the pastoral care side of things, organising English lessons and that the new migrants are welcomed into the community.

“This has never been done before, so we will see how it goes…it is time to break the cycle.”

Ati strongly advocates for a work-ready/settlement programme to be implemented in the quota scheme, and he is hoping to present his ideas to government in early 2018.

Visit Key Skills Recruitment for more information.

(Picture caption: L-R Eli Faamatau, Ati Aaifou-Olive and Flaui Muaulu in Apia during a recent recruitment drive and information session.)