15 Feb 2019

Govt declares Hawke's Bay seasonal worker shortage

1:04 pm on 15 February 2019

The government has declared a seasonal labour shortage in Hawke's Bay, one of the country's primary apple growing regions.

Janet and Roselyn at RJ Flowers Orchard in Hawkes Bay

Orchard workers in Hawke's Bay. Photo: RNZ Lynda Chanwai-Earle

The declaration allows people on visitor visas to apply for a variation of conditions that will allow them to work on orchards and vineyards in the region.

It will apply for a six-week period between 25 February and 5 April.

The peak harvest season for the Hawke's Bay pipfruit industry is forecast to run until around mid-May, and the Ministry of Social Development says there is a worker shortage of about 300 to 400 people.

The official declaration was in response to discussions with pipfruit leaders, industry experts, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Ministry of Social Development east coast regional commissioner Annie Aranui said the government would reassess the situation in four weeks' time if the shortage persisted it may extend the declaration.

Ms Aranui said the ministry was working hard to fill the positions and wanted to "support New Zealanders into sustainable employment opportunities available in the industry".

Since October 2018, the ministry had placed more than 215 people into job vacancies in the local pipfruit industry, she said in a statement.

Work and Income can also help access support with training, transport, accommodation and equipment, she said.