The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Wine industry welcomes decision to allow RSE workers from the Pacific

New Zealand Winegrowers says it welcomes the Government announcement to recommence the movement of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from the Pacific to New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on May 10 that approximately 2400 migrant workers will be allowed into New Zealand for seasonal horticultural work.

She said thousands of spaces in managed isolation and quarantine facilities will be freed up over the next 10 months, with 500 rooms in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) would set aside every fortnight for certain groups.

“The last 13 months have been tough for many but have been particularly challenging for our agriculture, horticulture and viticulture sectors,” she said.

Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, says the announcement will help the New Zealand wine industry secure access to the supply of off-shore labour, to ensure that winemakers can continue to make premium quality wine.

“At least some of these workers will arrive in time for winter pruning, a skilled role at which they excel,” he says.

“This decision will benefit workers, their families and our wine regions.”

Gregan says the projected labour shortage has been a real concern for some regions, especially Marlborough and Central Otago.

“We need this additional labour supply to meet our seasonal peak demands.”

NZ Winegrowers says pruning is particularly important this year, to set up the industry for optimal fruit production in 2022 and the decision will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty for the rest of the year.

However, the increased costs associated with bringing RSE workers into New Zealand will play a part in whether or not some businesses can take advantage of the Government’s decision.

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