15 Feb 2016

Hawke's Bay orchardists desperate for labour

3:50 pm on 15 February 2016

Hawke's Bay apple are growers struggling to find enough labour, apple growers say.

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Photo: 123RF

Bostock New Zealand orchard operations manager Craig Treneman said they needed 120 people and were desperate to find more labour.

"There's a massive apple crop to harvest this year, I think a 5 percent increase on last year. We're really struggling to get enough staff to pick the crop."

Mr Treneman said they employed workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, which brought people over from the Pacific Islands, but they were just a small part of their workforce.

"The big part is supposed to be locals - New Zealanders - and RSEs are there just to fill the shortage but at the moment we haven't really got enough," he said.

"We thought there'd be enough locals but we are just really struggling this year."

Growers worked with Work and Income to find staff, as well as advertising. They had also held an open day in a bid to attract workers before the apple harvest started in just a few weeks, Mr Treneman said.

"The key for us is getting New Zealanders into full-time employment rather than just seasonal jobs, and we are helping upskill our seasonal staff to give them more opportunity.

"We are challenged by a labour shortage and there are just not enough Kiwis available to meet the peak season demand," he said.

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