Alan Pollard, Chief Executive, New Zealand Apples & Pears
As I write this, the apple harvest is nearing its peak. What we are hearing from industry is concerning.
The whole industry from Gisborne to Central Otago is under huge pressure – growers and their teams are stressed and distressed. Blocks and varieties are being sacrificed; many orchardists are managing only one pick; pack houses are struggling to operate; the impact of the labour shortage is biting hard. This is one time when it is so gutting to be proven right – my colleagues from summerfruit, kiwifruit, wine, Horticulture NZ and Master Contractors, and I predicted and submitted to government back in November 2020 what the labour shortage may look like if the government did not get its policy settings right, including the economic and social consequences. The reality is largely just as we predicted.
Our thoughts are with all growers, their families and their staff – it is important that you look after yourselves and each other during this time. Signs of stress include being tired and run down, irritable, often sick with colds or flus, quick and noticeable weight loss or weight gain, dependency on caffeine to get through the day, argumentative, self-degrading, mood, personality or behaviour swings, lack of appetite or disinterest. If you feel any of these, or notice these in a colleague, talk to friends and relevant professionals, try and stay positive, stay active, find what works for you to get a good night’s sleep, take time to ‘get away from it all’ from time to time, have a plan of action, any action and get on with it. If you need help or someone to talk to, you can contact Rural Support 0800 787 254, Depression Line 0800 111 757, or the Mental Health Foundation 1737.
The Prime Minister was in Hawke’s Bay last Thursday, with Ministers O’Connor, Parker, Nash and Shaw. I indicated to her that we cannot have another season like this one, and that government policy settings have to change. My industry colleagues and I have already started that discussion with government Ministers, and asked that officials be assigned to begin work with us now on a viable solution.