The seasonal worker shortage in Hawke's Bay has been extended, the Ministry of Social Development announced on Friday.

With six weeks left in the harvest, and about 60 per cent of the overall crop still to pick, horticulturists are still struggling to fill picking vacancies.

The shortage, which has been in place since February 25, will now last until May 20.

MSD Group general manager client service delivery Kay Read says declaring shortage is a last resort.

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"Our focus remains on connecting New Zealanders to sustainable work and seasonal work is a step towards achieving this.

"We will continue to refer job seekers to available vacancies across all industry sectors.

"Declaring or extending a labour shortage is a last resort measure and something that's done once all other levers to find enough workers has been exhausted.

"A declaration also has the effect of highlighting to New Zealanders, who may be willing and able, that there are job opportunities available for them."

East Coast Regional Commissioner Annie Aranui says, with six weeks of the harvest left, there is still a shortage of seasonal workers to pick fruit in Hawke's Bay.

"We've been closely monitoring the shortage, reassessing the supply and demand weekly as the season progresses.

"Later variety apple crops have matured earlier than anticipated, and industry tells us there's still about 60 per cent of the overall crop left to pick.

"We're still working hard to fill positions and will continue to support New Zealanders into sustainable employment opportunities available in the industry and we will support industry as they seek to develop a future workforce plan."

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In the last three months (January-March 2019), 775 people have been placed into horticultural work in Hawke's Bay.

As well as extending the Hawke's Bay shortage, a seasonal worker shortage has been declared in Bay of Plenty.

Declaring a seasonal labour shortage allows visitor visa holders to apply for a variation of conditions, which will enable them to work on orchards in Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty.