Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet says about 3000 skilled drivers and machinery operators, who are typically from Ireland and England, come here to help with harvest each year.
Mr Levet says rural contractors struggle to find suitable staff in the domestic labour pool – partly due to the seasonal nature of the work which can last for just two months and also because of the highly specialised nature of the farm machinery being used.
But he says Immigration New Zealand is making contractors jump through too many hoops to bring back their skilled drivers from abroad. . .
Contractors don’t usually have problems getting someone the first time, but have difficulty if they want to employ the same people again.
. . . Mr Levet says rural contractors are finding it harder and harder to bring back contractors who have built up valuable local knowledge.
It’s not only contractors who want immigration rules eased.
Dairy farmers would also like it to be easier to employ staff from overseas and to rehire people who have worked for them before.
Just as young New Zealanders are valued for their attitude and skills when they work in other countries, foreign workers who come here are often better workers than some locals.