An increase of 1,000 seasonal workers announced by Government today brings some welcome relief to the growing horticulture industry, says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Chapman.
Government has increased the number of workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to 10,500 for the 2016-17 season.
“While the horticulture industry is strongly focused on getting New Zealanders into permanent work, at harvest time it is essential to have extra hands to get crops out of the fields and onto the consumers’ plates quickly,” Mr Chapman says.
“The RSE scheme celebrates 10 years next year and it is a win-win initiative that gives horticulture and viticulture a critical workforce at its busiest time, while allowing workers from mostly the Pacific Islands to gain invaluable experience and the chance of being able to send money back to their communities at home.
“Some of our growers have had the same workers coming for the duration of the RSE scheme and they have close bonds. This is a fantastic scheme and it is not taking away any local jobs.
“HortNZ has a number of programmes to get New Zealanders into permanent work and the RSE is separate to that. In fact, by handling the harvest, RSE has allowed the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealand workers in permanent roles.”
The horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry and aims to increase exports to $10 billion by 2020. Seasonal workers from the Pacific are an important part of a sector that employs around 60,000 people across New Zealand.
RSE workers come from the eligible Pacific countries of Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Fiji.