Addressing labour needs by region will lead to more productive primary industries, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.
The proposed changes to temporary work visas aim to make placing workers into specific regions and industries easier.
"It’s a fact that New Zealand needs people in the regions where we grow fruit and vegetables, far more than we do in the cities", says Chapman. "By analysing each region’s needs, both in terms of numbers and expertise, these changes will help areas in need of more workers, while also placing temporary migrants where their unique skills are most in demand.
"This will also help prevent oversaturation of labour markets. We don’t want competition for work between Kiwis and migrants, we want migrants to shore up numbers where Kiwis are unavailable. Our industry aims to get New Zealanders into work first, but some regions have virtually no New Zealanders available during harvest and pruning.
"These changes will allow regions to make their case for specific types of workers, and direct labour to the areas that need and value them most.
"Today growers around the country are experiencing a shortage of workers due in part to the low unemployment rate. This proposal will address those concerns, and is welcomed."