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New Zealand's new immigration plan could hurt horticulture industry

The government's new immigration plan will create a high turnover of staff in the horticulture industry and dramatically cut the number of people applying for jobs, according to a Bay of Plenty kiwifruit company.

The move would include a salary threshold for high-skilled migrants, while low-skilled migrants would be made to leave the country after three years and go through a stand-down period before being eligible for another work visa.

Ian Wilson's company, Arian Enterprises, employs 150 people on working visas and harvests, prunes and manages kiwifruit orchards. He said it would struggle to find staff under the new rules.

"It takes about one-and-a-half to two years to be skilled in pruning and working in the kiwifruit industry. We get them to a good skill level, and then they'll have to go away."

Mr Wilson said he had been forced to look overseas because New Zealanders thought of the jobs as only seasonal.

Opposition parties doubted the new rules would make much of an impact, labelling it an election year bribe. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the rules were "a con".

"If you read them carefully, it's really bureaucratic gobbledy-gook in a shambolic immigration service led by a government that has no clear plan on this matter.

Publication date: 4/20/2017


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