Around 30,000 seasonal workers are required for New Zealand’s summer harvest. With low unemployment levels and only temporary work available, New Zealand locals are often unable to fulfil labour requirements.
In light of this the nation has officially increased its Regional Worker Scheme (RSE) cap by 1750 to a total of 12,850.
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive, Mike Chapman, said that the industry needs government support and that he was pleased with the announcement.
Chapman noted the majority of workers come in from March through to May when kiwifruit and apples are in season, but that the country is seeing huge growth in demand for avocados, cherries and some berries which are harvested during opposing periods.
"Unemployment in New Zealand is at a low level and that makes people who are willing to do outdoor physical work in short supply. Our industry is running a lot of programmes designed to get New Zealanders into work, but in the South Island during harvest there are virtually no New Zealanders available,” he said.
New Zealand immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway listed raising wages, building accommodation, taking responsibility for contractors, and a shift toward producing high-value goods as four challenges for the industry to overcome.