NZ apple and kiwifruit growers implore jobseekers to help during the harvest

As apple growers across Hawke’s Bay were crying out for workers during peak harvest, there were up to 4,000 people of working age on unemployment benefits in the region. As the kiwis continued to ripen and the next harvest event rolled round a few weeks later, there were another 3,000 across Bay of Plenty.

Kate Bryant, general manager corporate service​s of kiwifruit producer Seeka, said it was a shame to think there were that many people not working who might have been able to help with the harvest.

Kiwifruit growers started picking the first week of March with 2,000 workers harvesting at orchards across the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Northland. This was compared with the 4,800 seasonal fixed-term workers they need for the harvest period.

Seeka’s general manager corporate services Kate Bryant estimated they were short close to 3,000 workers across their orchards in Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Northland. She acknowledged there were other barriers which may have prevented people taking up orchard work, such transport as a barrier for those travelling out of the city centres.

Physical barriers also existed for some and while there was increased automation, this was largely limited to packhouses as it was difficult to implement in kiwifruit orchards. In the year ended November 2021, gold kiwifruit made up 47 per cent, or $1.9 billion of total fruit export value, while green kiwifruit made up 23 per cent ($923 million).


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