A group of Pacific Island pickers stranded in Hawke's Bay is struggling for work, and costs are eating into the money they have tried to save for their families.
But their generous spirit has not been dimmed and on Tuesday they decided to give back to the community helping them through lockdown and winter.
The Tongan recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers were provided food parcels from Te Hei Mauri Ora at Hawke's Bay A&P Showgrounds. They wanted to know how they could help pay it back.
Hawke's Bay A&P Society general manager Sally Jackson said parcels were distributed from the showgrounds to those in need.
RSE workers were a big part of the over 5000 families who had benefitted from the food distribution scheme across the Ngati Kahungunu boundaries of Hawke's Bay.
It is estimated that there are 1664 RSE workers left in Hawke's Bay.
"When they were faced with being stuck here, they reached out and asked how they can give back to the community," Jackson said.
"We operate with a small team and often cannot attend all of our jobs, so to have 12 strapping young men come in and help is amazing."
Jackson added: "Showjumping Hawke's Bay, who uses this facility, had donations of wood, nails, shovels from BBI Wood, Brooks Builders and Tumus, and the workers are doing repairs on our stables."
Maleko Sole, the RSE workers' spokesman, said all 12 of the RSE workers had been in Hawke's Bay since November due to Covid-19.
"We were all meant to go back to Tonga in the first week of May, but the border to Tonga is closed," he said.
"We came here to help and say thank you for sharing food with us when we needed it."
Sole said the next few months would be a struggle, given that their costs would continue without much work in Hawke's Bay.
"We still need to buy food and pay for where we are staying, so when we go back we won't be taking much back with us.
"We just want to get back to see our families and their children. Then we want to get back here for the new season," Sole said.
Worker Takavaha Sime said it has been hard not being able to see his son.
"I am missing my wife and son a lot," he said. "I always call home to Tonga and my son tells me he just wants me to come back. I just want to get back soon to see them."
The workers say they expect to be able to travel home by September.
While Hawke's Bay's fruit industry managed to come through relatively unharmed during the Covid-19 lockdown, it is expected that next season may be more of a struggle.
Yummy Apples general manager Paul Paynter said he fears RSE numbers will most likely be cut.
"Locals are only 30 per cent of our workforce during the harvest with backpackers the biggest part," he said.
"That's been when unemployment has been low, but next year I'd expect fewer RSEs and almost no backpackers so we're going to need a whole lot of keen young Kiwis."
Paynter said that it would be great to get a trans-Pacific bubble open but that it may be a while with the Pacific Islands more cautious.
"Many Pacific Islands have their borders closed to even their own citizens and, with the measles disaster is fresh in their memory, they won't be bubble-friendly for a while," he said.