Hawke’s Bay celebrated its inaugural biodiversity field day in early February, with grower Xan Harding leading a posse of viticulturist utes on a tiki tour around the wider Bridge Pa area.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst and Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise met with Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi at parliament last week, along with industry representatives, to deliver the plan on behalf of the region.
The plan highlights the commitments already made by the sectors, including the creation of 1000 permanent jobs in the next five years, and increased pay rates for workers.
Growers are requesting the government provide space in managed isolation facilities for RSE workers for the upcoming thinning and picking season.
They have also asked that the government approve a plan for returning RSE workers from Covid-free Pacific Island countries at a government-run isolation facility in the Hawke’s Bay.
Hazlehurst said it was vital that local leaders speak directly to the Immigration Minister about the shortage.
“Minister Faafoi commended us for being the first region in the country to deliver a government plan to help with the seasonal labour shortage,” she said.
Hazlehurst said that the meeting showed local government’s commitment to supporting growers.
Wise said the horticulture and viticulture sectors were critical in supporting the COVID-19 recovery.
She said that the growers involved in the development of the plan represented 60 per cent of the New Zealand export market, contributing over $1 billion in export earnings to the economy.
“It’s vital we do everything we can to get our produce picked,” she said.
Eddie Crasborn from Crasborn Fresh Harvest Ltd said growers want to work with government on a multi-year strategic partnership that allows them to provide meaningful permanent employment for New Zealanders.
“As part of this partnership, the industry is committed to creating 1000 permanent jobs for our communities.
“We are focused on helping New Zealanders into permanent work which we know is critical in supporting our shared social, community and economic development goals.”