Horticulture New Zealand keen to work with new Government

11 November 2020

Horticulture New Zealand – which advocates for New Zealand’s 6000 plus fruit and vegetable growers – is keen to work with the new Government to ensure the industry can continue to grow and support New Zealand’s post-Covid economic and social recovery. 

‘New Zealanders have spoken strongly and provided the new Government with a significant mandate,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘We’re keen to continue to work constructively with Minister Damien O’Conner, including in his new role as Trade and Export Growth Economic Minister.  We want to ensure the horticulture industry is enabled to grow in line with Fit for a Better World, while at the same time responding to its environmental and climate change obligations. 

‘In 2019, the New Zealand horticulture industry was worth more $6.39 billion and has grown by 64% in the past ten years.  That is thanks to industry innovation and grower investment in new varieties and growing techniques to stay ahead of international competition and respond to consumer preferences.  This growth is also because the industry is a sustainable user of land.’ 

Barry says while the future is promising, the horticulture industry’s most pressing issue is with us right now: finding enough seasonal labour for the coming harvest. 

‘We estimate that even with a significant uplift in the numbers of New Zealanders being employed, we will still have a shortfall of approximately 10,000 people.  That is why we want to see the border opened now so people from Covid-free Pacific nations can come and work the harvest, as they have done for the past 13 years under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.’ 

Other horticulture industry challenges include: 

  • storing enough water to enable expansion
  • advanced biosecurity protection
  • ensuring that vegetable growing can continue in New Zealand
  • staying ahead of international competition through enhanced market access and the development of new fruit and vegetable varieties
  • reducing red tape across the industry, from orchard and paddock to plate. 

To read HortNZ’s full Briefing for Incoming Ministers, click here.