Hawke’s Bay growers are facing their most challenging season, with about 10,000 workers needed between November and April for thinning, picking, packing and processing the region’s world renowned produce.
COVID-19 has severely impacted the availability of overseas workers so the industry is looking for local heroes to help.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says we feed the country and the world with our produce and the industry needs everyone’s help in these unprecedented times.
“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port. However these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked.
“Our horticulture and viticulture industries are extremely valuable to our region, contributing around $1 billion to our economy so helping with the seasonal labour shortage is a top priority of all us. That is why we are working on this together.”
The industry has joined up with MPI, MSD, MBIE, the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the government next month to resolve the urgent need for seasonal labour.
As part of this plan, the region is holding a growers employment expo and information session. This event will showcase summer work and career opportunities on offer in the sector. EIT is lending its support with training advice and there will also be information about pastoral care with He Poutama Rangatahi providers.
Xan Harding from the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers’ Association says growers are thinking very differently about ways and means of hiring their staff.
“The industry knows it needs to be innovative and flexible when it comes to employing different workers. They know that expecting people to work six days a week, 10 hours a day is not going to suit many people and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to have the right person in their team – whether that be offering accommodation, transport, meals, training and upskilling and flexibility around work hours.
“There are some great examples of growers diversifying their recruitment to help fill the shortage of workers. There are vineyards in Hastings employing retirees to help with thinning. They are thinking of every possible option to make sure locals are employed and their crops are well looked after.”
New Zealand Apples and Pears is also getting creative with a new campaign, Pick Tiki, to entice school leavers and tertiary students 16 years and over looking for summer work.
It brings together the best employers and links them to students, also offering help to find accommodation and transport. An 0800 helpline is also available. It encourages students to get together with their mates, to meet new ones and to explore their backyards. Throughout the summer the Pick Tiki team will work with growers to host BBQ’s and activities that Pick Tiki students can take part in during their free time for a memorable summer experience. Students can also get January off to spend time relaxing and recouping before work starts again in February and beyond.
Mayor Hazlehurst says our growers need a reliable team and are keen to offer conditions that will work for everyone.
“With different varieties of fruit comes different types of work. You might be surprised what’s on offer. Come and have a chat to see where you could find your next job. There’s work available now.”
Drop into the employment expo to find out more about the perfect job for summer.
Tuesday 10 November | 4-6pm | Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre