11 Aug 2019

Hawke's Bay apple industry invests in accommodation for seasonal workers

6:26 pm on 11 August 2019

The Hawke's Bay apple industry says investing tens of millions of dollars in housing for staff will also help the hundreds of people in the region needing emergency accommodation.

Thousands of Pacific Islanders come to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, but other visa categories have become harder for Pacific migrants to obtain

Thousands of Pacific Islanders come to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, but other visa categories have become harder for Pacific migrants to obtain Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

It's aiming to have 1592 new beds ready for next year by extensively renovating existing dwellings and building new accommodation.

The region needs enough places to house the 5400 seasonal workers it needs from the Pacific to work in next year's harvest.

Gary Jones from the Hawke's Bay Seasonal Labour Group said the industry was spending nearly $40 million at $25,000 a bed to house all its workers.

"I don't think there's too many industries ever in New Zealand's history [that] would have invested so much in this sort of accommodation for workers," Mr Jones said.

"There's a lot of repurposing of old ... motels that weren't being used.

"Then we have purpose-built accommodation sitting in rural areas which looks a bit like pre-fab accommodation ... that will house about 12 to 16 workers which will have a kitchen and days rooms as well.

"They're built side by side with some recreational areas around them."

The industry said the building project would free up 46 houses currently used by seasonal workers for the 880 people in the region needing emergency housing.

Along with helping place vulnerable New Zealanders into short-term accommodation, some are also being offered jobs working in the apple industry along with transport to work each day is also part of the partnership, Mr Jones said.

About $650 million worth of apples are expected to be picked in 2020.

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