Horticulture companies spend over $30 million to accomodate workers

Apple growers and contractors are using accommodation for foreign pickers that they invested more than $30 million into to help ease the housing crisis.

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Apple growers and contractors have invested more than 30 million dollars in accommodation for foreign pickers to help ease the squeeze on residential rentals. Source: 1 NEWS

Horticulture contractor Thornhill has spent over $5 million turning a former hotel into a home for over 300 seasonal workers and 14 rooms have been made available for transitional housing.

"We didn't want a place in winter when there is a housing crisis to have empty rooms," Thornhill's Drew Bibby said.

"We've got a moral obligation to house some of our community."

Mr Bibby said his workers were provided three full meals a day, seven days a week.

Mr Bibby has also included a pool for their personal leisure time.

Esther Rapana, who is now employed full time at the compound, said it has been stress free as she begins looking for her own home.

"Being here and having access to the internet, knowing that my kids are fed and are ok has taken all the stress off me," she said.

The Hawke's Bay Apple industry has spent $30 million alone on purpose-built accommodation to help secure an extra 1000 workers through the recognised seasonal employers’ scheme but the government is still yet to decide whether they can recruit more foreign workers.

Immigration Minister Ian Lees Galloway declined to answer any questions, but said a decision would be made and announced later this year.