Open borders and working holiday visas welcome but no silver bullet

by | Mar 18, 2022 | News

As of orking Holiday Visa holders and some skilled workers can now enter New Zealand with no self-isolation requirements. Here’s how some industry players have responded:


New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry requires 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles and the industry is crying out for help to pick and pack it’s small, fuzzy fruit. Backpackers traditionally make up around one-quarter of the workforce. This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.

With New Zealand’s borders now open to backpackersNew Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) are leading the call for people to visit. “I strongly encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and join the team”, says NZKGI CEO Colin Bond. “Picking is a great opportunity for those who like to be in the outdoors, while the packhouse is suited to those who like to have fun in larger teams indoors”.

Almost all packhouses have told NZKGI that they will be paying at least the living wage of $22.75 per hour. Kiwifruit picking is also expected to exceed New Zealand’s living wage with an average of $27 per hour paid last year when the minimum wage was $20 per hour. See more here or on the Facebook page KiwifruitJobsNZ.

More here


Opening New Zealand’s borders to working holidaymakers is a good step in the right direction but is far from a silver bullet for the hospitality sector.

“With the current low rate of unemployment, any additional access to labour is great and will be welcomed by businesses struggling for staff,” says Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Julie White.

“But this is not a permanent fix because these visas are for just 3-6 months, and these people are limited to work in one place.

“The hospitality sector has traditionally been one of the biggest employers of migrant labour yet the Government turned that tap off and told us to employ more Kiwis. Well, that’s what we want to do too, but it’s really hard to find staff in this current high employment environment.

“The sector is suffering from a shortage of labour but this announcement does nothing to address that. We need to be offering more skilled visas so hospitality businesses can get the staff they desperately need.”


This is a big step on the road to recovery for the tourism industry, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says.

“Working holidaymakers will help fill skill shortages being felt across many sectors, including the primary industries and hospitality. They will also be keenly sought after by many tourism operators who are trying to fill vacancies as they look to address workforce shortages across the industry,” TIA Communications Manager Ann-Marie Johnson says.

“We are marking the second anniversary of the closure of New Zealand’s borders this week. That is 730 days of pain for small and large tourism businesses throughout the motu,” Ms Johnson says.

“Tourism was the first industry to be affected by the pandemic and will be the last to recover. We are heartened that the Government has signalled that our borders are likely to open to international visitors sooner than planned and we are keen to see the new timeline which is expected imminently.”

Read more here.

Auckland Business

It’s now up to all of us to help fire up tourism and encourage fully vaccinated family, friends and visitors from Aussie to come on over, says the Auckland Business Chamber

“We can all help spread the news that New Zealand borders are opening much earlier than forecast and we’re welcoming back vaxed tourists, working and holiday visa holders, students and others without having to experience a refreshed tourism sector,” says Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“Tourism operators, airlines and the hospitality sector now have certainty over the timings and will be working feverishly to create appealing, affordable and unique packages to put New Zealand back on the map and at the top of the list of must go to countries,” he said.

“Now is the time to review product and retrain a workforce to encourage new entrants with the lure of career paths and transferrable skills.”

Approximately 45,800 migrants arrived in New Zealand for the year ended January 2022, that’s down 40 percent compared with the year ended January 2021. Meanwhile 53,300 left the country over the same period, leading to an annual net migration loss of 7,500, reveal figures just out from Statistics New Zealand.

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