Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the Government’s latest immigration changes, saying they offer support to stranded backpackers and RSE workers as well as the New Zealand horticulture industry at a critical time.
"The changes provide stranded backpackers and RSE workers with certainty and options, while acknowledging the importance of the RSE scheme to horticulture and the Pacific," says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.
"At the same time, we welcome the expansion of the Supplementary Seasonal Employment visa, which will allow people on expiring working holiday visas to work in the horticulture and wine industry, where there are not enough New Zealanders available to do the work."
Mike says labour shortages have plagued horticulture for many years. "Covid has exaggerated the situation and put many growers under even more stress. In some cases, growers have not planted because they didn’t know if they’d have enough people to harvest their crops. Today’s announcement is good news. It gives growers across the country some certainty, and they are hopefully more positive about the future."
"The announcement supplements horticulture’s commitment to employing New Zealanders – including those displaced by Covid. Several schemes have been in place for years, to enable and support New Zealanders into horticulture careers. The announcement also acknowledges the key role that horticulture is in a position to play in New Zealand’s economic and social recovery. Our industry is the lifeblood of many parts of New Zealand, from Northland to the deep south. Backpackers and workers from the Pacific enable our industry to meet seasonal peaks such as harvest and pruning, while at the same time offering thousands of New Zealanders permanent employment." The horticulture industry is now worth more than $6 billion a year to New Zealand.