The far-reaching impact of Covid-19 has meant many New Zealanders who considered themselves to be in a particular sector "for the long-haul" have been forced to re-evaluate their career path, with many turning to agriculture. MPI's new campaign Opportunity Grows here aims to attract people into primary sector employment, by promoting what roles are available out there. This is Hamish Mckerchar's story.
A former pilot who lost his job to Covid-19 has found a new role as a farm hand, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Hamish Mckerchar was a pilot for 10 years, flying tourists from Queenstown over the pristine views of Milford Sound and Fiordland.
When Covid-19 hit New Zealand's shores, Mckerchar's market and income disappeared overnight.
Luckily he was able to rely on his rural roots and moved to his family's farm in Cave, South Canterbury, to work as a farm hand with sheep and Hereford cattle.
"I could get into farming quite easily because I have a bit of a background in it," he said.
"A lot of the guys in Queenstown ask me if I know anyone who needs a farm hand because they've got no work at the moment," said Mckerchar.
Mckerchar believed there were jobs available in the primary sector for those who found themselves unemployed due to Covid-19 restrictions. He encouraged people to consider working in farming.
"There's gonna be a lot of jobs going and anyone can come and get into it. My advice would be don't rule it out, farmers are good at sharing information and helping people learn."
One aspect of farming that Mckerchar revelled in, was how rewarding the lifestyle was.
"It's a cliché but, I love farming because you've got that fresh air, you're outdoors, it's quiet and every day is different. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you thinking."
"It feels good knowing you've done a good hard day's work, it's awesome."
In fact, Mckerchar enjoyed his career change so much, he said he wanted to continue working on farms - even when international tourism returned to full strength in New Zealand.
"I may keep my hand in flying, and do it part-time when conditions allow, but I just love it out here on the farm."
Interested in a career in the primary sector?
The Ministry for Primary Industries' Opportunity Grows Here campaign is helping to attract 10,000 New Zealanders into primary sector employment over the next four years, by providing information about careers, jobs, and training.
Opportunities are spread across animal farming, fisheries, forestry, horticulture and winegrowing, and require a wide variety of skills and backgrounds including machinery operation, administration, management and animal care.
MPI has worked with sector groups and training establishments to provide information about the kind of jobs and training available at opportunitygrowshere.nz