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First group of overseas seasonal workers begin apple harvest in Hawke's Bay

The first group of much-needed international help has arrived for some of the country’s fruit growers.

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About 150 pickers from Samoa began work today in apple orchards across Hawke’s Bay, as harvest season gets underway. Source: 1 NEWS

A 150-strong cohort of Samoan pickers today arrived in the Hawke’s Bay to help with Yummy Fruit Co’s apple harvest after being released from managed isolation on Sunday.

The group began picking this afternoon, the workers laughing and cheering throughout.

They are one group of 2000 workers that are due to arrive from the Pacific Islands over the coming weeks after the Government agreed in November to let the workers in.

The arrangement will bring the total number of RSE workers in the country to between 7000 and 8000, well down on the usual quota of 10,500 workers a year.

It's left some growers saying the scheme doesn't go far enough, including Yummy.

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The Government is also offering incentives for New Zealanders to take up seasonal picking jobs. Source: 1 NEWS

General manager Paul Paynter​ said some fruit will be left to rot.

“There is no way we are going to be able to get the harvest done,” he told 1 NEWS in November.

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Up to 2000 workers from the Pacific allowed into NZ to fill horticulture, wine industry jobs

Under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) exception, employers will pay the workers at least $22.10 an hour and cover the cost of managed isolation.

Workers were paid the equivalent of a 30-hour work week while they complete managed isolation.