Young men from refugee backgrounds praised for being “hard workers”

2019’s Men with Mana sessions continue to generate job opportunities for our refugee and migrant whānau.

Some of the dads who attended the series of weekend hui run through Men with Mana in Porirua, told their sons about seasonal work available in Martinborough vineyards for energetic workers keen to make a buck during their school and university holidays.  Half a dozen young men from Syria jumped at the opportunity.

Seventeen-year-old Amer Aktaa is off to University this year to begin a career in civil engineering. He was happy to spend his Christmas break training vines around support wires and hoeing around their roots.

“I don’t like to sit at home during the holiday when I can earn money easily and the work isn’t hard.”

His brother Mohammed and friend Abdulhamid Baraka are year 12 students at Porirua College. They are undecided about how they will spend the money they earn.

“Maybe a phone, but of course we’ll give some money to our families,” says Abdul.

Dave Shephard, Viticulture manager for Foley Wines in Martinborough says there are opportunities for keen workers at all levels of the business.

“I’ve dealt with quite a few refugees from various countries throughout the world. It’s a great thing to have the blend of cultures within the wine industry. It’s refreshing to work have people with the ‘can-do’ attitude they bring to the job.”

“Many have extensive experience working the land and they’re hard workers, keen to give new things a go.”

Ibrahim Altayfour (left) and Ahmed Haidar are two of the young refugees background workers impressing their bosses in the Martinborough vineyards

MSD work-broker Phil Rutene knows of plenty of people from refugee and migrant communities in Manawatu, Wairarapa and the greater Wellington area who are keen to work in Martinborough’s viticulture industry. Phil and E Tū Whānau kaimahi, Pohswan Narayanan regard this foray of young people into the industry as the beginning of an enduring relationship between the vineyards which need reliable workers and new New Zealanders keen to find work.

“The word is getting around,” says Pohswan.

“Another group of young people from Africa, Colombia and Samoa are now working in the vineyards. They’re enjoying themselves, learning new things and making money for themselves and their families. It’s win/win all round.”