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Tipu project to boost horticulture

THE Eastland Community Trust is financially supporting the Tipu Tairawhiti website, which has been set up by the Tairawhiti Labour Governance Group and designed to help horticulturists better access labour.

The initiative has flowed out of grower concerns about the need for a co-ordinated approach to labour in the horticulture and viticulture industries.

“The Tipu Project is an industry-led initiative focused on horticulture people,” said Tairawhiti Horticulture and project co-ordinator Rawinia Parata.

“We’re looking to plan, support and create a sustainable and skilled labour force for the horticulture industry for the region.

“Our people, our community and our industry is at the heart of the project’s decision making.”

ECT chief executive Gavin Murphy said it has become increasingly clear that the horticultural landscape in the Tairawhiti region has been changing.

“The Tipu Project is well timed.

“There are over 300 growers and clear signals of expansion in apples and kiwifruit, with 85,000 apple trees to be planted here this year alone, then a further 85,000 the next year.

“Labour analysis indicates an extra 1200 employees will be needed in the next three to five years to keep up with growth,” Mr Murphy said.

“It is also clear that there is an opportunity to improve the way we connect our local labour force to those jobs and it is our belief the Tipu website is an important part of that puzzle for the horticulture sector.”

As part of the project the district’s horticulture growers got the chance today to brush up on compliance requirements with employment law to ensure good employment practices for their workers.

Horticulture NZ has partnered with the Tipu Project to deliver a series of human resources workshops and the first was this afternoon in Gisborne.

“The aim was to ensure growers have all the information, resources and knowledge required to be compliant with employment law, and participate in good employment practices for our region and its people,” Ms Parata said.

“It was for any grower or horticulture contractor who wanted to learn and understand employment practices, particularly those employers who use a lot of seasonal labour.”

It covered the essentials for meeting employment agreements and contracts, record keeping, zero-hour contracts, piece rates and paid rest breaks.