01 May Ruth Charley
Name: Ruth Charley
How many seasons have you worked under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme?
Me, I’ve worked three seasons under the scheme.
What company/companies have you worked for?
Only with Pick Hawke’s Bay for three seasons.
Can you remember your first recruitment? Explain how you felt and what it was like for you and your family?
First time when I was recruited was with Pick Hawke’s Bay, I was working back home (Vanuatu) at this hotel and this lady called Cathy who was recruiting was staying there. This was my chance, so I asked her if there was any space for seasonal workers and she said that if I want to go to New Zealand I had to get my documents ready. The documents to prepare was my passport, medicals and police clearance. A year later Cathy came to my work place to recruit me. I had to sign my new contract in front of Anthony, in the carpark outside of the hotel that I was still working at. After that I was given only one day to prepare everything. I was told by Cathy that I will travel to New Zealand in November and that I had to put in my resignation, then let my family know that I got chosen. I was so excited. Firstly, I told my daughter and I asked her if she can stay by herself when I come to New Zealand and she said, “Mum, it’s your chance, it’s your opportunity to go”. This gave me the strength to push forward and take up this opportunity to work in New Zealand.
Can you recall your first season as a RSE worker? What was it like for you?
When I came here, I didn’t know anybody, everything was new. All I could do was follow what everyone else was doing. Two days after arriving in New Zealand I got to meet my boss Simon Halford, he was happy to meet us. It felt good because I could see that we were going to be a good team. I found the work easy here because back at home we use our own body power, our own strength to do labour work. Here in New Zealand you have machines and equipment to help you do the work. I enjoyed and liked the work. I would watch and learn then imagine what to do next, I would plan and prepare ahead.
My main job working for Halford was picking hydrangea flowers. We cut the flowers, then package them ready for export. If there are no flowers, we pick plum and cherries then package them. When there is no stone fruit work, I do QC (quality control) where I check the bins for the boys for any bruised fruit. At the end of the day I have to count how many bins each boy did and then I work out how many bins they did in one week and report this to the boss.
How did you adapt to the Western way of life? Were there any challenges? Were there any funny moments?
Here in New Zealand everything is by the law and there are rules. So I have to get use to these laws and rules and follow them. For example, rubbish here in New Zealand, you have to put the rubbish in bags and place it in the right place on the right day for collection. These rules I have learnt from, the rules taught me new ways of doing things.
First time when I came here I would say hello to people walking by, this is what my culture does, we greet people even if we don’t know them. We are all the same people. When I see some of the old ladies and old men, I ask them if they need my help, this is something we do back at home. Sometimes they ask me where I am from and I tell them I am from Vanuatu. They say that I am so kind and I tell them that I can see that they needed help. This helps me adapt to the New Zealand life by talking and helping people.
Working in hotels back in Vanuatu helped me understand the western culture.
Did you have a plan? What was it? Have you accomplished your plan?
My plan was to fund my daughter’s education because back at home it is very expensive. I have to work hard so my daughter can get a good education, this is my goal. She is still in the university, at USP studying to become a teacher. She is doing an online course from England that I have to pay for in pounds. It is expensive and takes time to pay.
Do you have any future plans for yourself, your family or your village/community?
My future plan is to secure property so I can build a home.
What has the RSE scheme meant for you, your family, village and community?
The RSE scheme has made things easier for me. Before I got accepted in the RSE scheme I would work for 10 years and find it very hard to afford things. I work here in New Zealand for three seasons and things are easy and better for me. I am able to pay for my daughter’s expensive education.
What do you love the most about being a RSE employee and the experience that comes with it?
When I go to work, I don’t feel sad. I feel happy and I feel great and excited to work. I just keep going and going. I don’t complain about anything, I am very grateful.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank Pick Hawke’s Bay because it has given me a chance to work. This opportunity has given me big things in my life back at home.