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More New Zealanders Picking Apples

More New Zealanders Picking Apples

A major recruitment drive PickNZ has seen more New Zealanders keen to help harvest fruit in Hawke’s Bay than ever before.

In January Hawke’s Bay’s fruit industry and Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) launched the www.picknz.co.nz website as a new tool aimed at stopping the seasonal labour shortage threatening the nation’s horticultural industry. The website is a pilot programme that is being tested over the Hawke’s Bay pipfruit season.

New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation director Ru Collin said PickNZ had helped take the threat of a ‘crisis’ out of the seasonal labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay and turned it into an opportunity.

“We also know we’re starting to reach New Zealanders wanting to work in the horticultural industry – the increase in foot traffic, phone calls and hits to the www.picknz.co.nz has been dramatic,” Mr Collin said.

The website matches growers with job seekers so that people find jobs and stay working throughout the season and hopefully return or gain permanent jobs

To date there have been 13,000 visits which totals over 4.6 million hits to www.picknz.co.nz.

The site has processed 3346 job applications to employers since going live and the most popular job has been for pickers.

Mr Collin said during February’s peak gala apple harvest more than half the people seeking work through the Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers Association office were New Zealanders.

“It’s great to hear growers saying they’ve never seen so many Kiwis working in their orchards,” he said.

The Braeburn harvest is just getting underway and once again the hunt was on to find people to pick and pack the crop. Harvesting would finish just in time for people to then travel to Tauranga to start on kiwifruit.

PickNZ’s long-term aim is to create a New Zealand harvest trail of seasonal work alongside the Horticulture/Viticulture Seasonal Labour Strategy Development team where people can travel and work for up to eight months of the year throughout New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable growing regions.

Mr Collin said once the season was over the success of PickNZ in Hawke’s bay would be measured. and considered for a national roll out in time for the year’s fruit harvesting season.

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