Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has urged growers to pay people better.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) says some 250 people have been able to vary the conditions of their visitor visas to work in alleviating the labour shortage in Bay of Plenty and the extension in Hawke’s Bay.
At least 18,000 seasonal workers will be required to pick and pack the kiwifruit harvest this year.
The peak is expected to last until the end of May.
NZKGI chief executive Nikki Johnson says the industry is pleased its campaign has boosted the numbers showing interest in working in the industry, but more will be needed at the season peak.
“As a first priority, we are calling on people who live close to orchards and packhouses to roll up their sleeves and join us in this booming industry.”
People from further afield should find somewhere to stay before they arrive, she says.
The upcoming labour shortfall at the harvest peak is reckoned at 3550 in Bay of Plenty. The shortfall at last year’s peak was 1200.
At least 155 million trays will needing packing.
Information on employers, job types and rights are posted on the NZKGI website.
Overseas visitors should visit the Immigration NZ website for details on varying the conditions of a visa.
Kiwifruit facts and figures
- Kiwifruit is NZ’s largest horticultural export.
- NZ kiwifruit production is expected to jump from 123 million trays in 2017 to 190m trays in 2027.
- The kiwifruit industry’s revenue is expected to jump from $2.1 billion in 2017 to $6b by 2030.
- A critical labour shortage could hinder this growth.
- The industry will need 7000 more workers by 2027 than it had in 2017.
- In 2017 when the minimum wage was $15,75, the average wage for picking kiwifruit was $20.95.
- The expected picking rate in 2019 is $23.50.