ACT Leader David Seymour has a very simple question for the new Immigration Minister: Why can’t Recognised Seasonal Employer workers come from COVID-free Samoa without the need for quarantine?

“There is no COVID-19 in Samoa, where thousands of workers come from each year to support New Zealand’s horticulture sector.

“Those I talk to in the sector say they cannot get workers for love nor money. Like every season, the industry is totally reliant on temporary workers. That includes all of the other workers in packhouses, administration, distribution and retail who need the fruit to be picked first.

“Some say, ‘just increase the wages’. That is naïve. You can earn $30 an hour as a good picker, and prices for fruit are set in a global market.

“Kris Faafoi is a much better operator than Iain Lees-Galloway, who was hopeless on the issue of RSE. My appeal to Kris is this: come to the table and advocate for the horticulture sector. Open up to Samoa so the industry can have a season with sufficient pickers.”