A Pacific contracting company is finding it tough to hire people to work in Hawkes Bay orchards. Photo/RNZ Photo/RNZ
A Pasifika-owned contracting company is struggling to hire enough workers to meet work in orchards in Hawkes Bay.
Since the first national lockdown due to Covid-19, New Zealand businesses have struggled to keep their workers employed, but for one Pasifika-owned contracting company, they are struggling to hire enough people for their busiest season of the year, summer.
Momoisea Horticulture Services Limited is a family-owned contracting company in the Hawkes Bay, providing orchards with workers to prune, thin and help with harvesting fruit.
The family have lived in Napier and served the area for over 20 years. The business started off with only their immediate family members and an average of 15 employees. It has since grown as an emerging industry in the area.
Business Commercial Manager, Theresa Momoisea, said there was a high demand for harvest workers and they were desperately seeking locals for jobs.
"New Zealand is in a 10,000 deficit of RSE workers.
"Growers have requested for the government to approve workers from countries with no Covid cases, but they have indicated that borders are to stay completely shut," she said.
Momoisea said the company would normally go through the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and hire workers from the Pacific region, but that was not currently an option.
"In the past, we had struggled to hire locals because no one here wanted to do the work, so that's why we have looked overseas for employees. Now we're back with the same issue, but different context."
In the meantime, Momoisea Horticulture Services is working with Work and Income in South Auckland to help source workers for the summer.
"I must admit it's pretty tough because I myself have been working at it for the past couple of months, just trying to prepare workers for the upcoming season. I think because everyone's been given opportunities to have access to the WINZ benefits and all these grants available to them, in a way it deters people from joining the orchard industry.
"Would you rather work or get free money from the government to get you day by day? Especially during the pandemic. You need to do what's best and convenient for you and your family."
Momoisea said the company was willing to provide help and support to those interested in moving to the Hawkes Bay for work. - RNZ