There’s plenty of cherries – but not enough cherry pickers in Otago
Orchards across Central Otago frequently struggle to find enough workers to pick their fruit, especially with the regions hot weather making this season two-weeks earlier than usual.
At 45 South Management in Cromwell, the country’s largest cherry exporter, they need more than 400 workers at the peak of the season.
They try to employ as many New Zealanders as they can but it’s never enough, so many of their employees are here on working holiday visas.
“Sometimes it’s really difficult and we’re lucky that New Zealand is one of the destinations that these young kids want to travel to,” said Tim Jones, owner of 45 South Management.
“So maintaining the working holiday scheme is really important to us.”
The Summerfruit industry is also on the rise, last season it brought in $130 million and those in the industry predict it will grow to $500 million in the next 10 or 15 years.
Many growers are concerned the new government’s tougher stance on immigration could cause problems finding workers in the future.
Immigration Minister, Iain Lees-Galloway, says they aren’t making any changes to working holiday visas.
However he says they are looking to expand the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, which brings more than 10,000 workers from the Pacific Islands to orchards and vineyards across the country each year.