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All go at Coxco

Gisborne agri-business Coxco will take on more than 400 local employees as their busy season approaches, with training, mentoring and ongoing employment as part of the package.

The company, founded by former Gisborne farmer Mark Cox in 1996, has grown its operations in the region to encompass farming, transport and labour hire service.

It is one of New Zealand’s largest suppliers of export squash to Japan and other Asian markets.

Since 2014, it has been part of Craigmore Sustainables — a New Zealand organisation that manages a number of sustainable food and fibre businesses.

The company was committed to employing local people, rather than relying solely on migrant workers, who were only a short-term solution, said Coxco managing director Omi Badsar.

“Our priority is to provide jobs and training for local people.”

Since it started, Coxco’s workforce has been 98 percent local.

The business is a member of Gisborne’s Labour Governance group, which is focused on increasing employment, training and the retention of local people in the region’s horticultural and agricultural sectors.

“We work very closely with WINZ in Gisborne, as well as Wairoa, to provide jobs for as many unemployed people as possible locally — from Wairoa and the East Coast up to Ruatoria.

“We already have 14 employees from Wairoa working with us who were previously unemployed.

“They have been with us for the last five years for seasonal work. We will be looking for more for the upcoming season.”

As well as work and training, Coxco provides wrap-around pastoral care to help people to get out of unemployment, upskill them and career-mentor them.

“We care about them. We provide role modelling, we help get them motivated to work, quit smoking, learn about good nutrition and cooking,” Mr Badsar said.

“We’ll give them budget advice, assist them to get their driver’s licence.”

Coxco also works with Turanga Ararau and the Department of Corrections and Salvation Army to find jobs for people, and with local agencies and the Industry Training Organisation to provide training programmes to upskill and educate new and current staff, says Mr Badsar.

Due to the increased workload in its labour hire service, which specialises in temporary and outsourced labour, Coxco is also ready to offer permanent contracts to 20 of its casual staff.