SORRY TO belabor the obvious, but when you’re a migrant worker (like me) working far away from home (like me), seeing your countrymen/women given star billing in the local newspaper is definitely not an everyday occurrence.
This however was exactly what greeted us during morning tea last Friday, when on the business page we saw the main picture and banner headline bearing familiar faces and an encouraging headline, Dairy farms turn to migrants.
Strangely enough, we were recently just thinking that our brother Pinoys down south (on the South Island) weren’t getting enough kudos for the contribution they were making to building up the Pinoy‘s reputation in NZ (thanks to their solid contribution to the agricultural economy), when the story comes out in the Dominion Post. Of course, part of the reason Pinoys are able to do this is because our hospitable hosts let them and are honest enough to admit it needs manpower help from outside.
Before we get too far ahead of ouselves, the Post story, in so many words, makes us extra proud of the Pinoy community in New Zealand, that hardworking compatriots not just in Auckland Wellington and Christchurch are quietly helping Kiwis and Maoris, but also deep in the farming heartland, tending to grazing cattle and sheep, milking cows and nursing lambs. In short, doing everything traditional Kiwi farmers do, except that many New Zealanders, more inclined to cross the Tasman strait for jobs in Australia, are no longer willing to do those same jobs.
You and I can’t overestimate what keeping farms staffed means for New Zealand. Think of all those Anchor Milk, Anchor Butter and Bing Loyzaga ads and Birch Tree commercials in the 1970s 1980s and 1990s. Where did all that dairy product come from, and where does it continue to be made? That’s right, here in Middle Earth, and kayumanggi hands churning all that butter and squeezing those teats will no longer be an unusual sight.
[ Additionally, besides the repost here, there is another interesting article about Pinoys in New Zealand farming that you might enjoy, posted in our very own Filipino Migrant News published in Auckland (by Sheila Mariano not far from where we live) and where the Pinoy community is MASSIVE. 🙂 ]
Unless you have microscopic vision, you won’t be able to read the story from the clipping above (although proverbially the pic tells a thousand words), likewise I’m not 100% certain if the report is carried in the online version. I’m happy to thank and acknowledge both Mr Jason Krupp, Fairfax News NZ (and of course the Dominion Post) for the sterling story and marvelous pic, respectively. Although some of you in my town have already seen and digested it, what I’m trying to say is I’m reproducing the story below, with grateful attribution to the copyright owners, no commercial gain intended :
“The stereotype of a Pakeha (European New Zealander) farmer may soon be on the way out, as dairy operators fill their ranks with foreign employees to make for the low level of interest in milk production jobs shown by Kiwi jobseekers.
“Agri-lobby Federated Farmers estimates that about a fifth of all dairy workers hail from overseas.
“That means the person responsible for getting a pint of milk out of a cow and on your breakfast table is likely to hail from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, or even as far afield as Colombia.
“And it is an arrangement that suits many in the industry.
Willy Leferink, the chariman of Federated Farmer’s Dairy Industry Group, said New Zealand — much like many other developed countries — was in the grips of a structural shift whereby young people were more likely to take up studies in more glamorous fields than farming despite its importance to the economy.
“He said that has been exacerbated by the rapid growth of the dairy industry in New Zealand, but an overall lack of interest in working long days in rural conditions were also an issue.
“`We need foreign workers because without them we would be devastated.’ Leferink said.
“The upside for farmers is that they gain staff with skills, as the New Zealand Immigration Service only issue visas to people with appropriate agri qualifications.
“They’re also getting the benefit of experience, with many foreign workers, particularly from the Philippines (underscoring YLBnoel’s), having worked in foreign markets.
“A South Waikato farmer, who asked not to be named, said staff with Saudi experience were particularly sought after as they were familiar with working on huge operations using modern machinery and world-class standards.
“He said efforts by Work and Income (the government funded employment and recruitment agency) to place unemployed people with farmers seldom yielded results due to a lack of dairy-specific skills, while foreigners came trained and enthusiastic (again, underscoring mine).
“Bruce Porteous, who works for farm recruitment firm Immigration Placements, said New Zealand was an appealing place to work for foreigners as the immigration laws paved the way for permanent resident.
“Data from Statistics New Zealand backs this. In the year ended November 2012, almost 200 people from the Philippines became permanent residents, up 8.7 per cent on the same period a year ago. Similar net migration gains were seen from Argentina and the Czech Republic.
“Additionally, there was the pull of “earning $14 an hour as opposed to $14 per day,” he said.
Leferink said he’d like to see more done at a school level to steer young people towards careers in the dairy industry.”
Res ipsa loquitur. Mabuhay ang Pinoy!
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