[15 February /Radio NZ]

The government has announced a seasonal labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay, one of the country’s primary apple growing regions. This declaration allows people on visitor visas to apply for a variation of conditions which will allow them to work on orchards and vineyards in the region and will apply for a six week period between 25 February and 5 April. The official declaration was in response to discussions with pip fruit sector leaders, industry experts, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Peak harvest season for the Hawke’s Bay pip fruit industry is forecast to run until around mid-May. The Ministry of Social Development stated that there is a worker shortage of about 300-400 people. Ministry of Social Development East Coast Regional Commissioner, Annie Aranui, said that since October 2018, the government had placed more than 215 people into job vacancies in the local pip fruit industry and that the Ministry was working hard to fill the positions. Ms Aranui reported that Work and Income can also help access support with training, transport, accommodation and equipment.