Worker shortage critical
A critical shortage of seasonal workers could hamper the kiwifruit industry’s predicted growth over the next decade, a report that came out last month says.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers produced the report showing the largely Bay of Plenty-based industry will require an additional 7000 seasonal workers if it is to double in size by 2027 as predicted.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay, whose constituency includes Te Puke, told Te Puke Times last week he is working to remind the government that a solution must be found.
Visiting the newly opened Splash Direct premises in Jellicoe St, he said the new building was a good indication that businesses were continuing to invest in Te Puke and seeing such visible investment was important for business confidence. He also visited Think Water and Game Gear and Fairhaven and Te Puke Intermediate Schools
“Around the country we are hearing a lot of talk about business confidence and, although it can sometimes seem like an abstract concept, actually if businesses aren’t sure they won’t invest,” he said.
“The really good news for us here is that both kiwifruit and avocados have had a really good season and going forward there’s still a lot to be confident about, but certainly what’s been raised with me are the challenges around labour, and making sure that we have enough people to pic the fruit and work in the packhouses.”
He said failing to resolve the issue would hold the industry and Te Puke back.
“People don’t invest tens of millions of dollars in the industry if they are not sure they can get a return because there’s not going to be anybody to pick the fruit or man the packhouses.
“It’s not just for next year, although there are very pressing needs, it’s having a very clear view of what workforce will be available in five and 10 years from now.” At Fairhaven he was shown the school’s new multi purpose room, partly financed by the annual fireworks display.
“It’s really pleasing that the school community is part of this and fireworks display after fireworks display has helped to contribute.”
Fairhaven School principal Paul Hunt with Rotorua MP Todd McClay in the school’s new multi-purpose room.