Horticulture New Zealand is pleased Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway have increased the amount of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers who will be available for the upcoming busy fruit harvest season.
"Horticulture is growing rapidly and, combined with wine, we are an industry earning more than $8.8 billion, this includes more than $5.1 billion of exports," Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. "While kiwifruit and apples are the most sought after, we are seeing huge growth in demand for avocados and cherries, as well as some berries.
"Harvest and pruning are intensive periods that require about 30,000 workers; about one-third of these workers come from the RSE scheme. It is a mature scheme which sees workers come from the Pacific Islands for set periods of time.
"Workers are well looked after with a complete pastoral care package and good accommodation and all New Zealand employment standards are met.
"Unemployment in New Zealand is at a low level and that makes people who are willing to do outdoor physical work in short supply. Our industry is running a lot of programmes designed to get New Zealanders into work, but in the South Island during harvest there are virtually no New Zealanders available.
"These are not full time jobs which makes them less desirable for New Zealanders, with harvest and winter pruning work available for around six months of the year. The majority of RSE workers are in New Zealand from March through to May for the kiwifruit and apple harvests.
"Our industry needs the Government support of this scheme and we work closely with the Immigration Minister and his officials to get the amount of workers right. We are pleased with today’s announcement."