Growers in New Zealand and Australia say they need Pacific workers to get the harvest in

The resumption of the harvesting season in New Zealand and Australia may open up new opportunities for Pacific seasonal workers.

New Zealand growers want the government to allow workers from countries that are free of Covid-19, like Tonga, back in.

Growers say they are thousands of workers short, even with those who have been stranded by the pandemic.

In fact farmers are adamant that without overseas workers they won’t be able to function.

According to  Tasmanian company Burlington Berrie, if the overseas worker’s programme stopped, so would Australia’s supply of berries.

Burlington hires hundreds of workers, many from Tonga.  Many return year after year.

Tongan berry picker Lavenda Aiseke said she would sign on for as long as the company would employ her.

Like many workers, the 24 year-old is supporting parents and siblings. Workers like her get a minimum 30 hours a week and pay a flat 15% tax.

The Australian government has allowed a trial reopening of its seasonal workers’ programme, with 160 seasonal workers from Vanuatu sent to Darwin for the mango season.

The Northern Territory governmen  and the industry covered the flights and quarantine costs.

Western Australia’s Agricultural Minister said farmers in that state would need thousands of workers to bring in the harvest.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, growers hope the government will allow workers from virus free countries back into the country.

Pipifruit New Zealand’s Trade Policy and Strategy spokesman Gary Jones said his sector was 3-4000 workers short.

He said growers believed they should be able to bring in workers from Covid-29 free countries.

“I hope all players, including the Pacific Island governments, come together to get a good solution so we can support the Pacific Island economies and the New Zealand economies,” he said.

Cederman Brothers co-owner Peter Cederman said it appeared that New Zealanders were either unwilling or unable to take on the horticultural work.

“I could simply say without the RSE workers, and I think every orchardist would back me up, without them we would not have a business. We could not do the scale or the export we do without them,” he said.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news