Worker short­age crit­i­cal

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By STU­ART WHITAKER news@tepuke­times.co.nz

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.

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