Labour shortage declared in BOP

An additional 1200 people are needed to pick and pack kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty. Supplied photo.

The Ministry of Social Development has declared a seasonal labour shortage across the Bay of Plenty.

An additional 1200 people are needed in the region to pick and pack an extra 20 million trays of kiwifruit this season.

The declaration will be in place from May 7 until June 8 and follows discussions with sector leaders, industry experts and other government agencies.

Regional Commissioner Mike Bryant says there have been a number of factors that led to the shortage being called, including a strong kiwifruit season, a decrease in the number of international students in the region, a bounce back from the PSA virus impacting crop volumes and varieties, and a relatively low unemployment rate in the region.

"The industry’s growing after the downturn that followed the PSA outbreak, and forecasts show it will continue to grow. To date around a third of this year’s crop has been picked and packed, however the industry’s entering the main packing period and more people are needed to help with work," he says.

The forecasted volume for this year’s kiwifruit harvest is about 142 million trays, which is a 19 per cent increase from last season’s crop of 120 million trays. The SunGold variety of kiwifruit, which accounts for 44 per cent of total crops, also requires picking in a shorter timeframe and means more reliance on fruit pickers during this period.

"The industry is extremely important to our local economy – 85 per cent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit is grown in the Bay of Plenty, it contributes $867 million to the region’s GDP and the kiwifruit industry provided jobs for nearly 10,800 FTE positions in 2015/16," says Mike.

"It’s an industry we’re extremely proud of and want to support, especially when there’s a need to find more workers. We want to, and can, help."

Between January and April this year, the Ministry of Social Development placed more than 1000 people into job vacancies in the kiwifruit industry through providing work brokerage support, training, up skilling opportunities, financial and case management support.

"We’re working hard alongside the sector to connect New Zealanders to seasonal work opportunities through Work and Income and to help them overcome any obstacles they’re facing.”

The ‘Work the Seasons’ employment portal has been launched, seasonal employment opportunities are given profile in the region’s Work and Income’s local service centres, and in the weekend the Ministry supported a kiwifruit industry employment expo in Tauranga.

"We’re having on-going discussions with leaders in the sector on how to make the industry more attractive to workers by improving employment practices. This is alongside ensuring the industry is forecasting for future labour demands, anticipating growth in the kiwifruit sector and building a sustainable seasonal labour workforce to match," says Mike.

"We estimate between 80 to 100 additional people from our Western Bay of Plenty Work and Income sites suitable for seasonal employment that could be used to meet the labour shortage. However more workers are still needed, because our clients alone won’t fill the estimated 1200 job vacancies in the industry.

"There’s a high demand for fruit pickers and people to help post-harvest and by declaring a labour shortage, people from overseas with visitor visas can apply for a Variation of Conditions allows them to work through the declaration period."

The Bay of Plenty has a relatively low unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent and also strong presence of about 2000 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in the region.

The declaration will be closely monitored and amended if conditions change.


Laugh time now.

Posted on 08-05-2018 13:19 | By Marshal

I figure we are all worrying about a problem that will resolve itself quite soon.The Giant Entity that is Zespri . I am reasonably sure is not far off a "self picking and packing Kiwi fruit" watch for it in the future.. Hehe.


Posted on 08-05-2018 11:48 | By waiknot

Seasonal workers should get more than a basic wage after all they dont get year round employment. Those on the dole who dont wish to work will never work, as much as I hate to say it will be better for us to just pay a basic stipend and forget them.

Oh Right,

Posted on 08-05-2018 10:11 | By Marshal

It would seem there is no shortage of workers, A shortage of ethical employers on the other hand. MMmm Not sure. If your weeks work pays your housing, food and clothing.. One hundred years ago that is what slaves had at the end of the week.. LOL...


Posted on 08-05-2018 08:37 | By Captain Sensible

There are unemployed, and unemployables. Not the same! Should have got Hilary Clinton to do some work in the packhouse as somehow she and her security staff got work visas, tax exemptions and a host of other allowances denied to the other foreign workers.

As a Employer

Posted on 08-05-2018 07:36 | By kinakat

Forcing people off the dole to work in the kiwifruit industry is a joke. Some are more hassle then their worth,they don’t want to be there,and make it so obvious.

Need to treat workers better

Posted on 08-05-2018 07:10 | By 1genx

Agree with money talks, industry wants to pay as little as possible, They treat the pickers and driver terrible, and then wonder why so much stalks and soft fruit increase there regent rate. Good gangs not valued. Industry needs to fix lack of quality picking by paying enough for it to be worthwhile to do a good job. Full time tractor driver on gang at present making between $200 and $680 a week, no work when wet or fruit damp in mornings , often paid for 4 to 6 hrs a day. On call 7 days a week. Not good enough

@ overit

Posted on 08-05-2018 00:12 | By MISS ADVENTURE

At best they last a week then can not be bothered to show up. End result WONZ payments are to easy to get and of course the way Jacinda is going there is more money for not working thand any other "JOB"! In my view there should be no "UN-employment" as there is lots of work out there for thise who want to work.That of course is the point isnt it, few are actually "EMPLOYABLE". So if that is the case, and it is, then why are they on the dole, they dont want to work, cant work, rather collect money for nothing. Couple problems in society easily fixed here if want to really fix things.


Posted on 07-05-2018 23:23 | By namxa

Offer decent money, youll get people workin for ya. Not rocket science.

Money talks

Posted on 07-05-2018 18:07 | By LeeW

Zespri is loudly proclaiming the huge profits of growers and packhouses. Maybe it is time to improve the pay and working conditions of the pickers and packers. That might encourage more workers. At the moment many are treated quite shabbily.


Posted on 07-05-2018 17:46 | By overit

Get the "doleys" out of bed and working. Kinda like work for the dole.


Posted on 07-05-2018 16:59 | By Angels

We have homeless and beggars every where!!!How does this work out.I,m not the smartest person by any means but even I can figure out what is going on.Lots of work, lots of homeless and beggars =Time for a van to park in front of Dole office to take them to work each day rather than handing out the dole. If unable to work mentally/physically fair enough.

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