Future of compulsory export levy to be decided in referendum

New Zealand kiwifruit growers are voting on whether to continue a compulsory levy on their exports, except fruit sent to Australia.

The process will be conducted via a postal and online referendum, running from 23 February to 24 March.

(l-r) NZKGI chairman Mark Mayston and chief executive Colin Bond

Image: NZKGI

If approved, the levy would continue to fund New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers’ (NZKGI) activities.

The last referendum took place in 2017. Since then, NZKGI said it has used the levy to produce significant outcomes for kiwifruit growers.

“This has included supporting growers through Covid-19, to advocate for the single point of entry marketing structure, hold Zespri to account and to attract labour to the industry,” according to a media release from NZKGI.

All New Zealand kiwifruit growers are entitled to vote and will be sent voting papers. A grower is considered to be the “titleholder of kiwifruit”, meaning a person that has legal and beneficial title to kiwifruit when it is supplied to an exporter. It means the grower is not always the orchard owner.

NZKGI chairman, Mark Mayston, encouraged all growers to vote in the referendum. 

“It is in each individual growers’ interest to be engaged in this process,” Mayston said. “As we are seeing with issues like the proposed ban of Hi-Cane, the success of their business often comes down to the advocacy that NZKGI provides them.”