[10 May/Radio NZ]

Tasman fruit growers said more needed to be done to deal with severe horticultural labour shortages. Two big storms dented both the regions reputation as a nice place to visit, and also the accommodation needed for harvest workers. Lower Moutere grower, Ian Palmer, said it had been the hardest season for finding staff in his 30 years of growing fruit. The Ministry for Social Development declared a seasonal labour shortage across the region which meant people on overseas visitor visas could apply for permission to work. Mr Palmer added that he did not see the idea working. Hawke’s Bay Area Manager, Stephanie Greathead, noted Immigration New Zealand had only received 36 applications in response to regions having seasonal labour shortages declared. She noted there was no way to decipher which regions the visa applications related to. Mr Palmer said demand for seasonal labour would continue to increase throughout the country. The seasonal labour shortage declaration in Tasman was due to be lifted next week.