Gavin Stagg, a labour coordinator for the New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI), speaks fondly of how the New Zealand kiwifruit growing business “is a booming industry”.
“You could start as an orchard pruner earning around minimum wage and move up to become an orchard manager earning more than $100,000,” he says.
Mr. Stagg’s role was funded through Provincial Growth Fund investments in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Economy, particularly in labour coordinators intended to tackle the labour supply issues facing the horticulture sector.
“I’m a great example of why kiwifruit is a good sector to get involved in,” he says. Until I joined the industry, the longest I’d held a job was two years. In this business, no two days are the same. It keeps me interested.”
The Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones announced the funding last December. In May this year, he also announced that the Fund will invest $1.1 million in six horticulture career coordinators nationwide to tackle labour supply issues facing the horticulture sector.
The Ministry for Primary Industries’ regional economic development team supported NZKGI on its funding applications for these roles, including Mr. Stagg’s. MPI works closely with the organisation, a key player in the kiwifruit industry.
The Bay of Plenty is responsible for nearly 80% of New Zealand’s kiwifruit production, and with export revenue of New Zealand kiwifruit reaching over $2.6 billion for the 2018/19 season, which is a 24 percent increase over the previous year, this is good news for the provincial economy.