News
Back to the news list South Canterbury businesses seek hundreds of worke
13 October 2020 - Media Release - Stuff NZ
With just over two months to find about 80 staff, the director of a South Canterbury orchard says the worst case scenario will see unpicked fruit rotting on trees.

Waipopo Orchard director James Anderson said he estimates the region’s growers would need between 400 and 500 staff during the peak harvest season from January to May, and the impact on the sector would be significant if workers could not be found.

“If we can’t get the fruit off the trees then we’ve got nothing to sell, it’s as simple as that.

“There is an urgency to fill these roles, but we are not desperate as yet because we have time on our side.”

Anderson said South Canterbury growers would work together to solve the “potential problem”, and different avenues such as new hours would be explored to find solutions to labour shortages.

“We will do things differently in the coming year.

“We are looking for New Zealanders and changing some hours, like having teams work from 9am to 3pm for people who have children in school.

“I am confident we can fill these roles but it will be through hard work, and working together.”

Anderson said every year the orchard employed seasonal workers, who were supplemented by backpackers and locals, but circumstances around closed borders meant they were uncertain of how many people would be available to pick fruit this season.

Waipopo Orchard needs at least 80 fruit pickers for its harvest season. Pictured is Bryan Robinson.
JOHN BISSET/STUFF
Waipopo Orchard needs at least 80 fruit pickers for its harvest season. Pictured is Bryan Robinson.
“We have no idea how many workers we’re going to receive this year.

“Obviously we’re not going to get too many backpackers coming through, so we’re putting the word out now we’ve definitely got work available through those key periods.”

Waipopo Orchard works 75.92 hectares on four separate blocks to grow Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Royal Gala, Red Delicious and Koru apples in Seadown and Waitawa, he said.

“We’re targeting around 2100 to 2400 tonnes this season at 50 tonnes per ha which we supply both domestic and export markets including the USA, Asia and Europe.”

Waipopo requires seasonal workers three times a year – for thinning, harvesting, and pruning – and would need at least 80 people during its peak harvest season, Anderson said.

Silver Fern Farms head of sustainability Justin Courtney said the company will be forced to limit export production unless they could attract enough skilled staff.
SUPPLIED
Silver Fern Farms head of sustainability Justin Courtney said the company will be forced to limit export production unless they could attract enough skilled staff.
“We need up to 75 workers seasonally for thinning, but if we spread it out we can drop it to 60 people.

“Through harvest we’re looking for 80 people, dropping back to 35.”

Hundreds of vacant positions have been advertised by South Canterbury employers in recent weeks, with many employers looking to fill voids created by a lack of seasonal workers.

Silver Ferns Farms is recruiting for 64 meat process workers for its Pareora operation for the November to March season.

The meat company’s head of sustainability Justin Courtney said the company would be forced to limit export production unless the Government recognises the essential role of its essential migrant workforce, especially certified halal staff.

“We just don’t have enough qualified and certified halal staff in New Zealand to fill these specialist roles across our sites.

“Without them we can’t process products for the crucial Middle East market, or to our important Muslim consumers in New Zealand and around the world. This is an important market for sheep meat and beef products from our Pareora site.”

Sanford human resources partner Rebecca Campbell said its Timaru processing site has 12 open vacancies for permanent part-time hours which run from 9am to 2.30pm.

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith says closed borders have been detrimental to local companies.
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/STUFF
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith says closed borders have been detrimental to local companies.
“There are almost always engagement opportunities within the Sanford Deep Water Fleet, which is based out of Timaru port.

“We have 10 vessels to crew, a total of around 370 crew.”

Fonterra, has 10 vacant positions in South Canterbury as it reaches peak season, a spokesperson said.

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said many businesses in the region were struggling to find workers due to closed borders.

“Our closed borders are now having a detrimental impact on a number of companies and the Chamber has been working with the Minister of Immigration to explore options for bringing key workers into the country.

“At this stage there is little traction being made.”

Venture Timaru chief executive Nigel Davenport said the agency was gearing up to launch a campaign to promote the region as a place where jobs are available.

“The message is simple – we’ve got jobs, and we need you now.”

Davenport said closed borders have had an impact on staffing in both seasonal and permanent roles, and this was felt across Timaru’s primary and manufacturing sectors with the “traditionally busy spring/summer harvest season” approaching.

“Whilst acknowledging the Government has relaxed some immigration settings, to allow access to some of the critical workers needed, we strongly believe they need to do more in this space and are strongly advocating for this to happen.”
Latest News
Forthcoming Events

Eastbourne House
507 Eastbourne Street West
PO Box 11094
HASTINGS 4158
NEW ZEALAND

Ph: +64 6 8737080

Fax: +64 6 8737089

info@applesandpears.nz

Privacy Statement

Terms Of Use

Copyright 2020 by NZ Apples & Pears Incorporated