Seasonal workers face icy winter trapped in Otago due to Covid-19

The arrival of a cool winter has caught out many seasonal workers stuck in New Zealand because of Covid-19.

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Hundreds from Vanuatu, and other pacific nations, now face an icy winter in Central Otago where the local community's rallying behind them. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds of orchard workers from Vanuatu are now facing the prospect of an icy cold winter in Central Otago, with temperatures as low as -4.7 degrees earlier this week.

“This place is very cold, it’s not like Vanuatu," orchard worker Makensie Wola said.

The ‘summer boys’ usually work in the Ettrick orchards from October to around April, but with borders closed, they’re unable to fly back home.

Thankfully there’s still enough work to go around, with the men given winter jobs.

But its clothing they so desperately need, after only bringing summer clothing.

That’s lead local volunteers to donate around 300 bags of clothing to keep them warm.

“Everybody came to the party. We’ve had clothes come from as far as Queenstown, Wanaka, Alexandra, right through Central Otago,” volunteer Anne-Marie Gardiner said.

The locals have also chipped in with such things as furniture and building supplies, all to be shipped in a giant 40ft shipping container back to Vanuatu.

The group are desperate to get anything useful to help rebuild houses lost last month during cyclone Harold.

“I know there are three (men) that lost everything. They’re in a dilemma because they need the money, but they’re actually as important to be back there for building and that’s been difficult for them,” volunteer Debbie Bingham said.

The group is hoping repatriation flights will soon become available, helping them to return home to families affected.

In the meantime, the Teviot Valley is doing their best, to make sure the men not only remain warm, but to also keep spirits high.

Anyone looking to donate supplies can visit this address for more information.