Measles epidemic taking toll on Samoan seasonal workers

The measles epidemic has been "taxing" on Pacific workers in New Zealand's horticultural industry, a co-ordinator with the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) says.

Jerf van Beek said many Samoan RSE workers had been affected by the impact of the epidemic on their families back home.

"Funerals are a very important part in the Samoan culture and we know it's very expensive," Mr van Beek said.

"We as an industry really want to support our RSE workers who are being affected by it, that they are able to come to New Zealand, earn the money and actually take it back again, under a very taxing situation."

So far, one Samoan worker in Hawke's Bay, has contracted measles. This worker was isolated and had since recovered.

All RSE workers are being given free immunisations two weeks before coming to New Zealand, Mr van Beek said.

But some workers had not been not able to take up their seasonal contracts in New Zealand because of radiology resources being diverted in Samoa for the measles epidemic.

Chest x-rays are compulsory for all new seasonal workers and those who have been out of New Zealand for longer than six months.

"Some of those people who actually need an x-ray to come into New Zealand cannot get an x-ray and therefore they cannot obtain a visa," Mr van Beek said.

"So what we've unfortunately had to do; some of the employers have already put things in place where they are actually going to other nations where there are no issues with measles and they're actually recruiting from there."