Tongan RSE worker dies after absconding in Auckland 

    A Tongan man who arrived in New Zealand as a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) worker has died after he suffered from what appeared to be an incurable disease, a source who asked to be anonymous said. 

    The man is believed to have long absconded from his RSE employer and was known to have lived in Auckland before his death.  

    It is understood the man was hospitalised for his medical condition at Auckland’s Middlemore hospital.

    We chose not to release his identity at this stage until his family could be reached for comment. 

    The news came after 66 Tongan RSE workers have absconded from their workplaces in apparent breach of their contract agreements and work permits. 

    The New Zealand government had previously called for better vetting for the scheme after a number of  Tongan workers were previously sent home after absconding from their employers.  

    In 2017, we reported that two Tongan workers disappeared with a company vehicle before being discovered in Auckland and sent home.

    Despite Tonga’s failure to fulfil New Zealand’s demands to return its hundreds of RSE workers being stuck in the country because of the Covid restrictions, the Ardern Government had recently announced that RSE workers from Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu would travel to New Zealand without undergoing a two-week stay in managed isolation.


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