OPINION: Farmers are change adaptive, we can make change for the better.
The declaration allows visitor visa holders to apply for a variation of conditions, which will enable them to work on orchards and vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay.
The shortage is for a six-week period between February 25 and April 5; declaration comes in response to discussions with pipfruit leaders, industry experts, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
East Coast Regional Commissioner Annie Aranui says the shortage will be closely monitored and has assured the industry that Government will reassess the situation in four weeks’ time.
"If conditions on the ground are largely the same as what we see now, then we will consider extending this declaration."
Forecasts expect the peak harvest season for the Hawke’s Bay pipfruit industry may run until around mid-May 2019 and there is currently a worker shortage of about 300 to 400 people.
"We’re working hard to fill these positions and want to support New Zealanders into sustainable employment opportunities available in the industry."
Since October 2018, the Ministry of Social Development has placed more than 215 people into job vacancies in the local pipfruit industry with many more prepared to start employment once the main harvest is underway.
"We’d encourage anyone looking for employment, who enjoys physical work and the outdoors to get in touch. Although largely temporary, these roles are an opportunity for people seeking to get back into the workforce and can open the door to other things."
Aranui says there is also ways Work and Income can help, dependent on someone’s circumstances, to access support with training, transport, accommodation, equipment and more.
"It’s important to come and talk with us. Seasonal work provides a great opportunity for those who are capable of doing it. Many seasonal workers experience a variety of work in a range of locations and are able to stay employed year round using their diverse skills.
"We’re providing work brokerage support, training, upskilling opportunities, holding workshops and specialised seminars, job share programmes, and providing financial and case management support for our clients."