In the South Island, we have a lot of peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries growing in orchards in the summer. In the Hawkes Bay, a lot of apples need to be picked in the summer. Berries and kiwifruit are grown in the Bay of Plenty. The berries are picked in the summer, and kiwifruit vines need maintenance. Grapes are grown over the summer in several regions around New Zealand. All of these orchards need temporary workers to pick their fruit and maintain their vines. Because this hard, physical work is temporary and often remote, and because the pay is quite low, orchardists have trouble getting New Zealanders to work on their orchards. They usually rely on travellers to help them.
One group of people who often help are backpackers. They are young people on holiday in New Zealand, including people on a working holiday.
Another group is people who come to New Zealand just to do this work. For example, many people come from the Pacific islands to work on orchards in the summer.
But this year, it is difficult for workers to come to New Zealand either for a holiday or work. The orchardists are worried that the fruit will not get picked and the vines will not get the care they need. This could mean less fruit. Not only will this mean less food for New Zealanders, but less money from export.
They want the government to make special exemptions for workers to come to New Zealand to pick fruit. However, more and more New Zealand workers are unemployed, so the government would prefer to find a way to get kiwi workers to pick the fruit and work on the vines.
orchard: a farm that grows fruit
orchardist: a farmer who owns an orchard
temporary: for a short time; the opposite of permanent
maintain: take care of
remote: far away; in the countryside
get someone to do something: persuade/make someone do something
rely on: need
the pacific islands: small countries in the pacific region such as Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu
export: selling things overseas
exemption: permission to do something that is not usually allowed
unemployed: without a job