Call for backpackers to help kiwifruit harvest

Supplied photo.

The New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated group are leading the call for overseas visitors to help pick and pack the nation’s iconic fruit now the borders are reopening to backpackers.

Working Holiday Visas are now available again across several nations, including Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, following two years of stagnation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry requires 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles.

Backpackers traditionally make up around one-quarter of the workforce. This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.

“I strongly encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and join the team,” says NZKGI CEO Colin Bond.

“Picking is a great opportunity for those who like to be in the outdoors, while the packhouse is suited to those who like to have fun in larger teams indoors”.

Kiwifruit orchards start at the tip of the North Island and run all the way down the country to the top of the South Island making a great opportunity for those who want to work and travel.

May of those orchards can be found right here in the Bay of Plenty, especially in Te Puke, the kiwifruit capital of the world.

NZKGI says that most packhouses have committed to paying at least the living wage of $22.75 per hour.

Kiwifruit picking is also expected to exceed New Zealand’s living wage with an average of $27 per hour paid last year when the minimum wage was $20 per hour.

Those who wish to travel to New Zealand on their newly granted or extended Working Holiday Visas can enter until 13 September 2022.

Visas are valid for 12 months from the date of first entry.

Before Covid-19, working holidaymakers accounted for about 50,000 of New Zealand’s international visitors each year.

The kiwifruit industry is one of New Zealand’s horticultural success stories, accounting for over $2.6 billion in export earnings in 2020/21 – the largest horticultural earner and rivalling other key primary produce exports.

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