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Hawke's Bay apple growers hope to stave off 'apple picking crisis'

Hawke's Bay's booming apple industry will be watching closely to see where an additional 1750 overseas workers will be stationed - as they hope to head off a repeat of this year's 'apple-picking crisis' .

Nine months ago the Ministry of Social Development declared a month-long seasonal labour shortage in the industry at the peak of the apple-picking season reports

The Government has now said New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme cap will increase by 1750 to 12,850.

"New Zealand's RSE scheme is a ground-breaking initiative introduced by the previous Labour Government in 2007, helping meet labour shortages in some of New Zealand's most important industries while providing economic support to our Pacific neighbours," Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said.

"The horticulture and viticulture industries have experienced significant growth in recent years. Industry reports say that since 2015, apple and kiwifruit orchards have increased in value by around 70 per cent each.

"However this growth has been accompanied by prominent labour shortages across industries and regions, notably in the past year. This is expected to continue, with growers forecasting 2600 more workers are needed to help support the industry."

Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said while it was important the industry was able to access RSE workers in peak season it was equally important they keep their commitment to employing New Zealanders.


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