New Zealand government rejects calls for fruit pickers to be let into the country, for now

Growers around New Zealand are currently facing a tremendous crisis. Usually, about 14,000 workers come in to the country to work the apple season, taking part in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. But there's only about 6,000  in the country from last season, and not all of them want to remain in the country.

Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi has stated that ideas like getting workers direct from COVID-free countries, or isolating outside of managed facilities, were too risky. Faafoi said he asked the industry to work with MPI and Immigration to see how they could maximise use of the workers already in New Zealand.

He said there were solutions, such as using students, and the government had extended working holiday visas. "We didn't give them any commitments, we're just saying at the moment, 'we want you to do the best with what's here in New Zealand ... and that is a big challenge. If they get to the point where they have worked as a sector to say 'hey look, we still have a need for RSE', then they'll do that, but they've still got a bit of work to do.”

"The managed isolation facilities that we've got for the government at the moment have a capacity of about 7,500 every couple of weeks. That is the filter that everyone must go through to make sure we keep COVID out of the country."


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