New Zealand PM praises workers during visit to kiwifruit packhouse

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New Zealand PM praises workers during visit to kiwifruit packhouse

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has heaped the praise on workers as she toured a Te Puke kiwifruit packhouse, website Stuff reported.

Ardern started by giving thanks to Trevelyan's Pack and Cool workers for continuing to work through the lockdown and helping to "keep New Zealand fed".

Cheerful workers followed the congregation through the packhouse took the opportunity to take photographs now the 2-metre distancing rule has been relaxed. New Zealand lifted all domestic coronavirus restrictions on Monday after it reported no new cases in 17 days and no active case for first time since late February.

Ardern said her family used to own a kiwifruit orchard before switching to avocados, but stressed she would no longer be able to operate any of the machinery.

During the tour of the facility, Ardern was briefed about the safety measures implemented for the 1300-plus workers employed by the facility in the peak season.

"First I wanted to say a huge thank you on all of our behalf," she was quoted as saying. "You were part of our essential workforce when we needed to make sure we kept New Zealand fed."

She also thanked the company for providing jobs when they were needed and spoke to new efforts to retrain people and support more New Zealanders coming into the industry.

Deputy chair of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers, Mark Mayston, said more people were coming into the kiwifruit industry following job losses due to COVID-19.

"We have had Air New Zealand cabin crew, engineers, as well as people, form the tourism industry and hospitality," he was quoted as saying.

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