The Beehive building

Hawke’s Bay Labour Shortage Declaration Extension

21 March 2018.

The Ministry of Social Development is extending the labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay for three more weeks to help find jobseekers to pick and pack an extra two million cases of fruit.

Following discussions with pipfruit leaders, industry experts and other Government agencies, a labour shortage was declared in Hawke’s Bay from 12 March 2018 to 6 April 2018.

The Ministry of Social Development is responding to further feedback from the Hawke’s Bay horticultural sector and is extending the declaration until 29 April 2018.

East Coast Regional Commissioner Annie Aranui says more workers are still needed to help with harvesting the fruit in the Hawke’s Bay.

"Where an industry so important to this region has a clear and immediate need, we back them. We’re continuing to proactively work alongside the horticultural sector in Hawke’s Bay to look at the crops, when they will be ready to harvest and what workers and support is needed to make that possible, and how we can help," Mrs Aranui says.

"We have placed a huge number of people into work so far. Since October last year, in the East Coast region alone, we have supported nearly more than 1100 jobseekers into industry vacancies.

"The weather conditions this summer, with more heat and rain, has seen a bumper crop produce bigger volumes of larger apples. Although we’re providing all the people we can to help with seasonal work opportunities through Work and Income, more are still needed."

The Royal Gala crop, which accounts for 33 percent of total crops, is experience a lull in growth due to the cooler days and nights. Pickers have been focused on the Jazz crop, which accounts for 6 percent of the crops, and the remaining 60 percent of crops will be ready for harvesting soon.

"Industry have informed us that heavy crops take longer to mature and the time needed to pick them needs to be extended to account for that," Mrs Aranui says.

About 14 million cartons of apples will be packed this year in the Hawke's Bay, which is an additional two million cartons compared to last year.

"Although we provide work brokerage, training, up skilling and support for people who may need it, it does take time to ensure jobseekers are work-ready and this may impact on the amount of possible picking days for those applying," Mrs Aranui says.

"The industry needs more help, so extending the labour shortage to allow for more time and more jobseekers and visitors to New Zealand to apply makes sense."

"There is no stand down period for people receiving existing financial support, and although largely temporary, these roles are an opportunity for people seeking to get back into the workforce and can open the door to other things."

By declaring a labour market shortage all growers within the Hawke’s Bay area will be able to employ fruit pickers who are not necessarily New Zealand Jobseekers, and are on visitor permits.

The last labour shortage declaration for all of Hawke's Bay was made in 2010 when the unemployment rate was at 6.4 percent. The current rate is 5.6 percent.

For more information contact:

Public Affairs | National Communications | Ministry of Social Development