Otago Daily Times

Call for all hands to the har­vest pump

- JARED MOR­GAN jared.mor­gan@odt.co.nz

CEN­TRAL Otago res­i­dents are be­ing asked to muck in or be more hos­pitable than usual in a bid to make up some of the sea­sonal worker short­fall.

Any­one with spare time or a spare room is the tar­get of a cam­paign launched by the Cen­tral Otago Re­cov­ery Re­sponse group.

Covid Re­cov­ery man­ager Dy­lan Rush­brook said the ‘‘Spare Time, Spare Room’’ cam­paign was one of the group’s first ini­tia­tives and tar­geted lo­cals, friends and fam­ily as a so­lu­tion to the pre­dicted sea­sonal labour short­age.

At peak de­mand in De­cem­ber, Cen­tral Otago needed about 5000 sea­sonal work­ers to as­sist in the hor­ti­cul­ture and viti­cul­ture sec­tors, he said. Th­ese work­ers were usu­ally sourced through the Recog­nised Sea­sonal Em­ployer (RSE) scheme, back­pack­ers and, to a lesser ex­tent, lo­cal youth.

Due to Covid­19, the bor­der re­mained closed and the Gov­ern­ment had in­di­cated it was un­likely RSE work­ers would be al­lowed into the coun­try.

‘‘We are hop­ing lo­cals who may be look­ing for work, or who may be work­ing re­duced hours, part­time, or even our many fit and able re­tirees, will con­sider fill­ing that spare time by fill­ing a va­cancy on a lo­cal orchard or vine­yard.’’

Mr Rush­brook said the short­term na­ture of the work meant New Zealan­ders were un­likely to move per­ma­nently. There was a short­age of ac­com­mo­da­tion, and look­ing closer to home was key.

‘‘If spare time isn’t some­thing you have, then we’re en­cour­ag­ing our com­mu­nity to think about of­fer­ing up a spare room to friends or fam­ily for the sum­mer who want to come and lend a hand.’’

Cen­tral Otago Mayor Tim Cado­gan said he planned to work in an orchard while the coun­cil closed over sum­mer, ‘‘be­cause this is re­ally an all­ hands­ to­ thep­ump sit­u­a­tion for our com­mu­nity’’.

‘‘Lock­down showed our re­silience and it is again time for us to come to­gether to stare down a prob­lem that is go­ing to af­fect us all.

‘‘If we don’t get the fruit off the trees and vines, we will see a huge amount of money lost to our econ­omy; some­thing none of us can af­ford in th­ese times.’’

The flow­on ef­fects could re­sult in job losses and shops and busi­nesses clos­ing, he said.

 ??  ?? Dy­lan Rush­brook
Dy­lan Rush­brook

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