Information sessions about the harvest worker shortage across Hawke's Bay had a fruitful turnout, according to organisers.

Two sessions were held on Monday morning in the Camberley Community Centre and another at the Flaxmere Community Centre in the afternoon.

It's the first time they've been held within the region with Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst saying more would be planned in the future.


Earlier this month the Ministry of Social Development declared a seasonal labour shortage in Hawke's Bay, in place for a six-week period from February 25 to April 5.

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In order to provide interested parties with information on jobs available, the Hastings District Council joined forces with the Ministry of Social Development and New Zealand Apples & Pears.

The declaration followed discussions with leaders from the pipfruit industry, experts and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and it was estimated the worker shortage was currently in the order of 300 to 400 people.

Labour coordinator for PickNZ Felicity Moore attended both sessions and said their role was to help smaller orchards find workers.

"A lot of people came to the Camberley session which was quite promising. We aim to connect employers with vacancies for anyone looking for work. We had a good amount of people register with us this morning."

Work and Income case manager Nikita Matthews also attended the sessions to inform workers about the support that was offered along with harvest work.

"We just let them know what their entitlements are once they move into employment such as non-beneficiary assistance, courses that they can take part in and so on.

"We've also placed 70 solo parents into packhouses to do job sharing, it's a full shift which is split in half. One mum will do 6am-12pm, then another mum will do from 12pm to 5pm and that's been really successful, employers like it because their productivity stays the same."

Sandra Hazlehurst also welcomed the solo parent initiative and was pleased at its success.

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"It's about working with our community, it's fantastic that our orchardists horticulture sector are able to work around them.

"The visitor visas have also been welcomed and they've sent out correspondence to 6000 visitors in New Zealand to say come to Hawke's Bay. As a community we want to do everything we can to support the labour shortage."

120 tourists have applied for visa changes which would allow them to work as fruit pickers in Hawke's Bay since the seasonal labour shortage officially kicked off on Monday, February 25.

It is a drop in the ocean however, with an estimated 300-400 pickers needed in the region.

Immigration New Zealand manager George Rarere said along with tourists being allowed to work, MSD was working with the industry to fill the roles. He said applicants needed to be in New Zealand to apply to work on a tourist visa, and as such, it would be unusual for an application to be denied as they had already met requirements to enter New Zealand.