New workers help kiwifruit industry in BOP

More people have applied to vary their visa conditions to work in the BOP and Hawke's Bay following a labour shortage declaration.

Around 250 people have successfully applied to vary the conditions of their visitor visas to work in the labour shortage declaration in the Bay of Plenty and extension in Hawke's Bay.

This is since a labour shortage was declared earlier this month.

The BOP labour shortage declaration began on April 15 and runs to May 27.

The number is expected to increase sharply over this week. In 2018, around 230 people successfully applied for a VOC in the Bay of Plenty over the declaration period.

This week marks the beginning of the peak of harvest for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty. More than 18,000 seasonal workers will be required to pick and pack the iconic piece of kiwiana.

The peak is expected to last until the end of May.

“While we are pleased our attraction campaign has increased the number of visitors who have shown interest to work in the kiwifruit industry, we are likely to require more workers to pick and pack at season peak," says NZKGI CEO Nikki Johnson.

"As a first priority, we are calling on people who live in close proximity to orchards and packhouses to roll up their sleeves and join us in this booming industry.” Those from further afield are recommended to secure accommodation before arriving.

Nikki Johnson.

Current estimates put the potential labour shortfall at peak around 3,550 the Bay of Plenty’s kiwifruit industry.

There was a shortfall of 1,200 vacancies at the peak of harvest in 2018.

The shortage places the current workforce under pressure to pick and pack this years’ estimated volume of over 155 million trays. So far around a quarter has been picked and packed.

Potential employees who would like to find work in the kiwifruit industry can find information around employers, job types and rights on the NZKGI website (

Overseas visitors are encouraged to visit the Immigration New Zealand website where detailed information about varying the conditions of a visa can be found.

Kiwifruit Facts and Figures

  •   •  Kiwifruit is New Zealand’s largest horticultural export.

  • New Zealand kiwifruit production is expected to jump from 123 million trays in 2017 to 190 million trays in 2027.
  • The kiwifruit industry’s revenue is expected to jump from $2.1 billion in 2017 to $6 billion by 2030.
  • A critical labour shortage could hinder this growth.
  • In comparison to 2017 numbers, the kiwifruit industry will require an additional 7,000 workers by 2027.
  • In 2017 when the minimum wage was $15,75, the average wage for picking kiwifruit was $20.95.
  • The expected picking rate in 2019 is $23.50.

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