With international borders remaining closed to backpackers and RSE workers, summerfruit growers are desperately in need of staff for the season’s harvest.
The season runs from November through April, peaking in January with thousands of jobs needing to be filled. There are not enough local residents or unemployed workers in Central Otago, Marlborough, or Hawke’s Bay to get the job done.
The team at Summerfruit NZ have been working closely with Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development and HortNZ on initiatives to attract workers to the regions.
New Zealand’s students have been responding well to information provided via digital platforms and university magazines. Job fairs and expos have been quite successful at attracting people interested in trying out seasonal work hopeful it might lead to training for a qualification and a career in horticulture. Plus, the Ministry of Primary Industries’ digital campaign and billboards have helped spread the message around the country.
Summerfruit NZ’s chief executive Richard Palmer says ‘most growers are reasonably happy with the numbers for early December’ but found there isn’t the same level of confidence for staffing levels during the peak late-December and January period.
“Into December overall seems to be covered but it is January where there is quite a big hole that we need keen people to fill,“ he says.
“It’s not all climbing ladders, but a reasonable level of fitness is necessary for field work, however there is plenty of variety for both indoor and outdoor roles. These include packhouse quality control and supervision, machinery operators, and of course picking.“
If you or someone you know is considering doing some seasonal work from January onwards and wants to work, stay and play in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful regions, summerfruit growers are keen to hear from you. Many have accommodation options available or can help with transport from local towns
For more information on summerfruit regions, harvest and job listings, visit www.worktheseasons.co.nz/horticulture.
NOTE: This article was published on behalf of Summerfruit NZ.