By Tom Kitchin of RNZ.
Agriculturalists are demanding assurances from the government that the chronic labour shortage they are facing never happens again.
Covid-19 has left them without thousands of workers and with no certainty for the future, they are asking for action.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, along with other top ministers, met sector leaders in Hawke's Bay yesterday at a food and fibre leaders' forum.
Horticulture New Zealand president and chairman Barry McNeil, a kiwifruit grower from Bay of Plenty, had one question for the government.
"What is the pathway forward to ensure that come our next peak period for labour, that we don't have the same limitations that we've had over this season, especially in the apple and to some extent in the cherry industry so far?"
RNZ has chronicled the stories of growers trying to survive the shortage around the country.
Some are not sleeping, even with tranquillisers. Others have been suffering from anxiety.
McNeil said horticulture work never stopped and workers are needed in different sectors throughout the year.
"It sort of goes all year round to some extent, there's one sector in horticulture that will need seasonal labour that unfortunately in this current Covid situation is not available."
At the food and fibre sector meeting in Havelock North yesterday, Ardern said the government's taken action.
"Together, we have managed to bring in additional workforce support for the industry, but I think there's also at the same time an acknowledgement that the fact we have taken the approach we have to Covid has had some benefit to the sector as well, even if one of the by-products has been labour shortages."
There has been a low turnout for some of the government's initiatives, such as people relocating to another region for a short time.
Ardern admitted it had not worked seamlessly.
"Sometimes relocating for a short period of time is quite a big hurdle, but that wasn't the only thing we did. We've been working together on how we can better fit together those who are seeking work within the region where there is the shortage."
Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor said small orchards should work together.
"It is really important that these small orchard owners work with one another because they may not be picking on the same day, they are changing the picking programme, they're going through their crop not as often, pulling them down and grading them out, they're getting people who are doing admin work to get out and pick."
Ardern said the government was doing its best to encourage more workers into the industry.
It was doing that through training and taster courses, as well as MSD schemes such as "$5k to work".
That offers a $5,000 grant for workers who relocate for seasonal work longer than 91 days.