7 Aug 2009

Fewer overseas visitors to be hired in Nelson orchards

10:45 am on 7 August 2009

Nelson orchards, vineyards and market gardens will be cutting back on the number of overseas visitors they employ in the coming season, a move that's expected to be followed in other parts of the country.

Instead, the employers will be drawing on the growing numbers of jobless New Zealanders to fill seasonal jobs.

National Pipfruit Growers' chairman Ian Palmer says Nelson seasonal employers don't expect to be hiring overseas visitors under the new Supplementary Seasonal Employer scheme. He expect this to be typical for most of the country.

Mr Palmer says it is possible that fewer Pacific island workers will be brought in under the Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme as well.

Last season Nelson growers employed about 70 overseas visitors under the backup seasonal work scheme at the peak of the harvest.

RSE scheme 'lifts living standards'

Meanwhile, Samoa's Commercial and Trade Commissioner in New Zealand, Apete Meredith, says the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme has lifted the standard of living in the six Pacific Island countries taking part.

The scheme which came into force in October 2007, is designed to eliminate labour shortages in New Zealand orchards and vineyards by allowing growers to employ workers from the Pacific Islands.

Mr Meredith says the scheme has been a valuable source of foreign exchange for the participating countries in the form of remittances sent home from New Zealand. Workers have gained experience on large scale orchards and farms and skills in post-harvest handling of fruit.