Working the Vines: seasonal migration, money, and development in New Zealand and Ambrym, Vanuatu.

by Rochelle-lee Bailey

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: seasonal; labour; migration; money; development; RSE
Record ID: 1309817
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5063


This research contributes to anthropological knowledge of Melanesian international labour mobility, specifically ni-Vanuatu, in the 21st century. A new era of international labour mobility opportunities began for the region in April 2007. This thesis examines the multiple social and economic consequences of ni-Vanuatu participation in New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE). The RSE scheme was a grower initiated policy to provide New Zealand growers with reliable labour in the horticulture and viticulture sectors. At the same time, New Zealand government officials promoted the RSE as a way forward for economic development in the Pacific region, via remittances sent home. With a lack of waged employment at home, ni-Vanuatu perceive the RSE as an additional source of income that can meet individual and community needs. Nonetheless, there are competing claims to these incomes and workers are in constant negotiation in how their incomes are redistributed among various interests and more importantly, maintaining social obligations through reciprocal relationships. In this thesis, I explicitly focus on how earnings from New Zealand are recirculated into communities in Ambrym and add that these incomes also provide local New Zealand economies financial rewards. In Vanuatu, RSE earnings have contributed to school fees, new housing, water infrastructure projects, community projects, new businesses and have been included in funding the ceremonial exchange economy. Workers note that they are ‘working for the community good’ and aim to ‘improve livelihoods’. Through various forms of remittances, they have been reaching their ‘development’ specific goals and continue to generate new targets for their families and communities.