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New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) is working to dispel misconceptions about work in theindustry on the eve of the 2021 harvest.

The representative body said around 23,000 workers would be needed for this season’s kiwifruit harvest, which is expected to produce even more thanlast year’s record of 157m trays (green and gold).

Ongoing Covid-19 travel restrictions mean growers will be looking locally for labour – meeting the shortfall of workers from the RSE (RecognisedSeasonalEmployer) scheme and working holiday visa-holders.

“Our strategy to attract labour is to get as much information and awareness about the seasonal work available for potential workers out there through a wide range of media and channels and correct any misconceptions about kiwifruit work. We want the opportunities to be highly visible and well-understood,” said NZKGI chief executive Nikki Johnson.

NZKGI is running an outreach programme to potential New Zealand sources of seasonal workers, in particular seniors and tertiary students. It is also working closely with the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure unemployed New Zealanders are fully aware of what the industry can offer.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of MSD and MPI behind us; they are creating some excellent initiatives, events and marketing to get the messages around kiwifruit work opportunities to those seeking employment – and it’s not just about seasonal work,” Johnson explained. “Kiwifruit offers long-term and permanent career opportunities in our leading horticultural sector.”