Labour Migration in Samoa

Samoan international migration has been having a significant impact on the country’s population for at least 40 years and labour migration has played an important part.

Project documentation | 14 April 2015
Samoa has one of the largest overseas diaspora groups in the Pacific with the UN Population Division estimating the number of Samoa-born living overseas in 2013 to total 129,150 with 65,000 in New Zealand, 31,900 in American Samoa, just under 20,000 in Australia and 12,400 in the USA. The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings in 2013 recorded just under 50,700 Samoa-born as usually resident in the country.

Samoans have privileged access to New Zealand through a Samoan Quota and a series of work permit schemes since the late 1960s. They are active participants in New Zealand’s managed seasonal migration programme, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, and have recently become a participating state in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program (SWP). Samoa is a foundation member of New Zealand’s RSE scheme and became a participant in Australia’s SWP in 2012.

During the year ended June 2013 1,137 Samoans were employed as seasonal workers in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries and 22 were employed in the horticulture sector in Australia. Since the second year of the RSE Samoa has sent more than 1,000 seasonal workers to New Zealand each year, and Samoa is third in the ranking of Pacific RSE providers after Vanuatu and Tonga.