New border exemption for 2,000 fruit pickers

The Government announced on 27 November an update to the Restricted Temporary Entry immigration instructions for Border Exemptions

Supporting the horticulture industry

The announcement stated that from January 2021, up to 2,000 experienced seasonal workers from the Pacific will be able to come to New Zealand to work. This decision means to address chronic shortages in the viticulture and horticulture industries.

But it comes with a catch: employers will have to pay the workers a living wage of $22.10 an hour, pay them 30 hours' a week while they are in managed isolation (quarantine) for 14 days, and also cover their isolation costs. This could add up to $4,472 a worker.

While these requirements may seem stringent at first, the announcements have been met with praise from the industry, who has been desperate for such positive sign, as the high season is fast approaching. However, at peak season the industry employs up to 8,000 workers so it appears the Government remains aware of balancing the public interest, and the safety of New Zealanders by not opening the borders wider than they need to be. They are also providing incentives for New Zealanders to give a helping hand to the horticulture and wine-growing industries.

More information at Beehive

More workers needed but a positive sign

These announcements are likely to be met with frustration from other industries who may feel their own requests are not being heard. However, we like to think these small steps towards easing restrictions progressively are positive signs that 2021 will see further exemptions put in place.

So far exceptions have been granted for 30 veterinarians, 570 deep-water fishing crew (...), 210 agricultural mobile plant operators, 250 PhD and post-graduate students, 100 people with "essential" reasons to travel through New Zealand to the Pacific, 2,770 critical health workers, and 60 shearers.