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Call Goes Out For Kiwifruit Pickers And Packers

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

NZKGI CEO Nikki Johnson

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. “Our strategy to attract labour is to get as much information and awareness about the seasonal work available for potential workers out there through a wide range of media and channels and correct any misconceptions about kiwifruit work. We want the opportunities to be highly visible and well-understood,” says Ms Johnson.

An important part of the NZKGI strategy is an outreach programme to potential New Zealand sources of seasonal workers, in particular seniors and tertiary students, says Ms Johnson. This year NZKGI is also working closely with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure unemployed Kiwis are fully aware of what the industry can offer.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of MSD and MPI behind us; they are creating some excellent initiatives, events and marketing to get the messages around kiwifruit work opportunities to those seeking employment – and it’s not just about seasonal work. Kiwifruit offers long-term and permanent career opportunities in our leading horticultural sector.”

Pickers and packers should expect to earn at least the living wage in this year’s harvest – a great message to attract workers to the industry. Almost all packhouses have told NZKGI that they will be paying at least the living wage of $22.10 per hour. Kiwifruit picking is expected to exceed the living wage and paid an average of $24 last year when the minimum wage was $18.90 per hour. Workers are encouraged to consider their options and find an employer who meets their expectations around pay, hours and locations.

People interested in participating in this year’s harvest can find vacancies on NZKGI’s Facebook page KiwifruitJobsNZ and detailed information on the different jobs and worker rights on the NZKGI website

Key resources

Key resources prepared to support the strategy include an updated, online video featuring orchard workers and growers talking about the industry and jobs, a comprehensive 14-page workers’ guide to the seasonal work – The Little Green and Gold Book, and a strong social media programme to promote available roles and answer queries from potential workers. Both the video and the guide are available online and the guide is being widely distributed through accommodation sites, tertiary institutes, MSD branches and other outlets.

“We want prospective workers to have access to everything they need to help them decide to come and work for us,” says Ms Johnson. “That includes guidance on the roles available, timings, pay rates, working conditions and workers’ rights, health and safety, accommodation options and leisure possibilities in the various kiwifruit-growing regions.

“We particularly emphasise the importance of choosing an accredited and reputable employer – and our guide tells them exactly what they should expect of their employer.”

NZKGI Coordinator Gavin Stagg distributes information on picking and packing to backpacker accommodation


  • Download the 2021 NZKGI Labour Attraction video here
  • View the 2021 NZKGI Labour Attraction video here
  • NZKGI 20201 Little Green & Gold book here
  • Backpacker accommodation list here
  • NZKGI’s KiwifruitJobsNZ page here

2020 Kiwifruit industry regional contribution

  • Kerikeri: $55m
  • Whangarei: $21m
  • Auckland: $66m
  • Waihi: $23m
  • Waikato: $66m
  • Katikati $209m
  • Tauranga: $219m
  • Te Puke: $417
  • Maketu: $95m
  • Paengaroa: $130m
  • Manuatutu: $84m
  • Pukehina: $115
  • Whakatane: $81m
  • Opotiki: $172m
  • Poverty Bay: $57m
  • Hawke’s Bay: $34m
  • Lower North Island: $6m
  • South Island: $63m

Kiwifruit facts & figures

  • Kiwifruit is New Zealand’s largest horticultural export.
  • New Zealand kiwifruit production is expected to jump from 150 million trays in 2020 to 190 million trays in 2027.
  • The kiwifruit industry’s global revenue is expected to jump from over $3.4 billion in 2020 to $6 billion by 2030.

About New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI)

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) works to advocate, protect and enhance the commercial and political interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers. We represent kiwifruit growers, giving them their own voice in industry and government decision making.

Kiwifruit is by far New Zealand’s largest fresh horticultural export, with over NZ$2.3 billion in sales of New Zealand fruit in 2020. This represents the value of over half of all New Zealand’s fresh horticulture exports. In 2020 some 2,800 growers sold 145 million trays of kiwifruit to over 50 markets. The industry is experiencing strong growth which is expected to continue over the coming years.

NZKGI’s headquarters in the Bay of Plenty, the geographic heart of the kiwifruit industry, is the central hub for the NZKGI Executive Committee, Forum members and staff.

More information about our portfolios of Industry Stability, Performance, Communications, Labour & Education, External Relations and Organisational Management can be found on our website:

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