[8 April/NZ Herald]

Immigration officials were unable to process potential overseas workers faster, so residents in the Hawke’s Bay region were asked to help out with the apple picking crisis. Ngati Kahungunu Chairman, Ngahiwi Tomoana, spent three days picking apples in an attempt to get locals involved. Mr Tomoana said the apple industry was the driver of their economy and therefore growers needed support. The Ministry of Social Development declared a labour shortage on March 12 which has been extended until April 29. Bostock New Zealand Labour Development and Resource Manager, Vikki Garrett, said since the declaration it had still been hard. She added that it was the worst it had been and there were hardly any backpackers. She emphasised their priority was to put locals into local jobs and also get fruit off trees at the optimum time.