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Confirmation Of Quarantine-free Travel Welcomed

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) has welcomed today’s announcement from Ministers Hipkins and O’Connor that quarantine-free travel will commence in October for workers from Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa.

Chief Executive, Alan Pollard, said that the announcement will provide some relief to growers facing a coming season where labour supply will be even more constrained than last year.

“RSE workers are an integral and important part of our industry and of our wider communities. The Pacific has been hit very hard by the impact of the global pandemic on tourism and by border closures limiting opportunities to work in New Zealand. This is good news for provincial New Zealand and for the Pacific nations”.

The announcement comes after considerable discussions between government and industries on how to bring more RSE workers into NZ without putting further pressure on an already stressed MIQ system, and while ensuring that the health and wellbeing of both New Zealanders and RSE workers.

“While the details of how this quarantine free travel will work in practice are yet to be finalised, a huge amount of work is being done to agree the terms to allow travel to commence as early as possible in October”, Pollard said. “This includes how workers will travel to New Zealand, vaccination and isolation protocols, and the repatriation of workers who have been in New Zealand for a considerable time and want to return to their families and communities”.

The pipfruit industry was hit hard by the labour shortage in the last season, and is now working with the government on a programme to support industry innovation and productivity growth. “The government challenged us to develop an Industry Transformation Plan, focussed on attracting and growing a permanent New Zealand labour force, better managing our seasonal peaks, and driving innovation and automation”, Pollard says. “With the support of local government leaders and regional MPs, we have delivered a draft plan to government that supports the industry’s aspirations while ensuring long term sustainable and rewarding careers for New Zealanders”.

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