The first seasonal workers have swung into action in New Zealand’s apple orchards, preparing the trees for another bumper crop.
Bostock New Zealand has recently welcomed over 200 seasonal workers from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Indonesia as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.
Owner of Bostock New Zealand, John Bostock says New Zealanders always come first when it comes to employment.
“The key for us is getting New Zealanders into full time employment rather than just seasonal jobs and we are helping up-skill our seasonal staff to give them more opportunity.
“But we are challenged by a labour shortage in New Zealand because there are not enough Kiwi’s available to meet the peak season demand, so it is great that we can bring in labour from other countries to help get the fruit off the trees at the crucial times.
“The RSE scheme helps so many families throughout the Pacific Islands as the money earned here is put back into their communities.
“It also enables Bostock New Zealand to build a business that can create fulltime roles for Kiwis too.”
Bostock New Zealand employs just under 300 RSE workers some arriving in November and others in February. They can each save up to $9000, which they take home and use to invest in things like schooling, building improvements, local churches, purchasing land, homes and businesses.
Vanuatu RSE Worker Graham Nawia is returning to work for Bostock New Zealand for his sixth season.
“My home was totally destroyed in Cyclone Pam so this gives me an opportunity to earn some good money to bring back to my wife and children in Vanuatu. It has been very tough for a lot of families, so it will be good to invest money back into my community to help rebuild it.”
For Wilson Loyalty, it’s his first time in New Zealand as an RSE worker. He also had his home destroyed by Cyclone Pam and says the opportunity to work for BOSTOCK New Zealand enables him to rebuild his home and business in Vanuatu.
“I can give my family a better life and education by working in New Zealand. I miss my family but I enjoy the orchard work and the company is very good to me.”
Bostock New Zealand provides all its RSE workers with accommodation and transport.
“We have between 80-85% returnee rate and I think that boils down to how we treat our RSE workers and the good wages they can earn here in New Zealand,” said Mr Bostock.
The New Zealand RSE scheme started in 2007. It allows approved employers to recruit workers from designated countries and has been credited with improving confidence in the fruit sector, which had difficulty in attracting labour for short periods of time.
Bostock New Zealand seasonal workers are currently thinning the apple trees, weeding and preparing for the apple harvest which starts in February.