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Faafoi impresses farmers

Kris Faafoi in Masterton. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Labour’s Minister for Housing and for Immigration, Kris Faafoi rolled out an immigration pre-election announcement in Masterton on Tuesday, which was welcomed by Wairarapa Federated Farmers president, David Hayes.

Hayes said with the hay harvesting season already underway, the news that 210 new immigrants skilled in working tractors, harvesters and bailage machinery being allowed into New Zealand was welcome but probably of greater use next season,

“We will be going in with a shortage this year, but it is possible the region can attract some skilled immigrant machinery operators when we come into cereal crop harvesting later on,” Hayes said.

The minister announced time-limited immigration class exceptions for up to 30 veterinarians, 570 deep sea fishing crew, and 210 agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators.

“We decided these numbers on Monday once the case had been made from the groups applying for immigration exemptions,” Faafoi said.

“But we are saying to those groups that this is not guaranteed for next year and going forward we expect wage and training packages to be part of how they attract New Zealanders into their sectors.”

As a trained veterinarian, Hayes said he knew it was hard to attract vets to rural areas.

“Animal welfare is important and getting vets to Wairarapa is vital.

“I am not sure that 30 nationwide is enough but it is good to have it on the immigration skill list,” Hayes said.

On Tuesday, Faafoi also announced the government was expecting a shortfall of seasonal workers in the viticulture industry and is automatically giving working holiday visa extensions for Supplementary Seasonal Employment visas expiring from November 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

While in Masterton with Wairarapa’s Labour Party candidate, Kieran McAnulty, Faafoi had an hour-long meeting with Trust House chief executive Charlie Kaka and Trust House Limited chairman Jock Kershaw.

They discussed the social housing shortage.

Kaka said it was a follow-up on previous meetings with government officials.

The trust had about 100 applicants on its housing waiting list.

“The minister expressed his concerns about the current shortfall of housing stock in Wairarapa and Labour’s commitment to drastically reduce housing waiting lists,” Kaka said.

“I outlined our commitment to work with government, councils, iwi, other providers to reduce the housing shortfall and how an injection of capital support would allow us to escalate our current plans.”

McAnulty stood by Labour’s promise to provide 80 new social houses in Wairarapa by 2022.

“Historically, Wairarapa is riddled with mistakes with social housing and we want to fix it, yet the National Party has no plan at all regarding social housing in Wairarapa,” McAnulty said.

Wairarapa’s National candidate Mike Butterick said Labour had missed opportunities to partner with community housing providers to accelerate the development of new houses.

“The state houses Labour claims to have built this term were actually planned by National in 2017.

“It’s all well and good to promise delivery by 2022, haven’t they had three years to deliver? Or is this going to be a delivery of ghost houses just like Kiwibuild.”

Faafoi also met Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson and South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen and Carterton’s Deputy Mayor Rebecca Vergunst to discuss housing and land supply.

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