Local insights report: February/March 2023

Hawke's Bay local insights report: February/March 2023.

Top regional insights – Cyclone recovery

The Hawke’s Bay region is focused on a recovery that reflects the needs and priorities of the local community

Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay Councils, Iwi leaders and Government are working to ensure a coordinated recovery and rebuild that is locally led. Pillars of the recovery will include environmental resilience; economic growth; whānau and community wellbeing; primary sector; resilient infrastructure; and recovery transition.

Whānau across the region are still displaced from their homes or living with substantial damage

Council Yellow stickered Red stickered
Wairoa District 210 2
Napier City 130 4
Hastings District 712 100
Central Hawke’s Bay 95 1

A significant number of marae have also reported damage


  • Omahu
  • Pōrangahau
  • Kahungunu (Nūhaka)


  • Moteo
  • Takitimu
  • Tawhiti A Maru


  • Tangoio

Tatau Tatau event ‘Thrive, Kai and Kōrero’ gave 200 Wairoa whānau the opportunity to engage with agencies, iwi and community providers

Kōrero with whānau highlighted key issues impacting the community, including: Temporary Accommodation Services (TAS) placements creating transport challenges; the desire for recovery efforts to move at the pace of the community; and the need for coordinated cross-agency communication. A member from the Hawke’s Bay RSLG team is now based at the ‘all of government hub’ in Wairoa for 2 days a week to engage with the business community and link them to business recovery support mechanisms.

Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) has acknowledged the businesses and kaimahi that have been at the forefront of the cyclone response

Local contractors volunteered their time and machinery to support the community with their clean-up efforts but as the region moves from response to recovery, many of these businesses have had to return to pre-cyclone contracts to ensure financial viability and to avoid penalties. The workforce shortages that have challenged the sector for several years are only going to be amplified as the recovery works pick up pace. CCNZ says the cessation of the Targeted Trades Training and Apprenticeship Fund and the reduction in funding under the Apprenticeship Boost scheme means employers are less likely to support their staff through apprenticeships.

$14.7 million of recovery grants have been paid out to local businesses

$14.7 million of recovery grants have been paid out to local businesses with the tourism and hospitality sector making up 20% of all grants allocated, and the horticulture and construction sector receiving 16% of the share. March is typically a peak employment period for the region but instead there are less jobseekers exiting benefit than expected for this time of year. The impact of crop losses on seasonal labour demand is a contributor to this increase. Ngāti Kahungunu recently announced the closure of Takitimu Seafoods which resulted in 30 job losses, stating profitability had been a challenge for several years but the cyclone was the ‘final blow’. With more business closures and job losses likely imminent, retraining and redeployment opportunities are a priority for the region.

Pipfruit industry members from Hawke’s Bay (and Tairāwhiti) are seeking recovery support from the Government

The industry injects approximately $1.85billion into the local economies and employs approximately 2,800 permanent New Zealand staff and 9,100 New Zealand and Pacific seasonal staff. Seasonal crops losses in Hawke’s Bay are estimated to be over 30%, with the number of tree deaths still unknown. Without government support it is likely there will be a significant downsizing of the sector with consequences for employment throughout the regional supply chain. Top of mind for the industry:

  • Belief that banks are likely to support them through to the end of harvest and at that point key decisions will need to be made on the shape and size of their businesses.
  • Analysis being undertaken for the Hawke’s Bay horticulture sector has assumed that around 50% of impacted growers will not recover without government support.
  • ‘Growing back better’ for the Hawke’s Bay horticulture sector is likely to result in a greater proportion of more skilled roles relative to seasonal roles longer term as new ‘robot ready’ growing systems will need less unskilled labour. These new innovative growing systems do, however, require more labour in the first few years of establishment as the trees need to be ‘trained’ along wires. The short-term versus long-term impacts for seasonal labour demand are therefore different.

Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) – Te Pūkenga is closed for 6 months after 90% of the ground floor buildings were damaged by floodwaters

The majority of the 3,200 ākonga have been able to continue their studies either online or in temporary facilities, with deferments to semester 2 impacting 120 students. The Wairoa Regional Learning Centre also remains closed with teaching occurring online and/or at off-campus facilities. Local private training establishment’s (PTEs) did not suffer damage to their buildings, but flexibility with course delivery has been required to accommodate impacted ākonga and tutors. For example, ETCO (Electrical Training Company) are looking at contingency plans for their 50+ Wairoa apprentices due to attend block courses in Napier.

Advice to tertiary education commission advice

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has committed to using regional insights from the 15 RSLGs to inform the ‘Supplementary Plan Guidance’ for 2024 tertiary education investment. The Hawke’s Bay RSLG utilised this opportunity to highlight the priorities outlined in the Regional Workforce Plan and to identify training provision required to support the cyclone recovery.

Recommendations reflected the need for:

  • Increased provision in health and wellbeing qualifications
  • Pre-employment and training programmes underpinned by pastoral care, specifically:
    • Existing and effective Te ao Māori provider models
    • Construction and Infrastructure models, including programmes that deliver a wheels, tracks and rollers endorsement 
    • Te Taiao (the environment) models that include water security, indigenous ecosystems, and resource management.
  • Micro-credentials that pathway kaimahi into higher skilled roles in the construction and infrastructure sector
  • Micro-credentials and short courses in horticulture, viticulture and fencing.
  • Accessibility of New Zealand Certificate in Resource Recovery (Level 2)
  • Provision of New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Pre-Trade (Level 3)
  • Continued funding of the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) to support apprenticeships in the Infrastructure and Construction Sector.

Other regional insights

Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers’ Association annual Industry Awards Night

The Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers’ Association held their annual Industry Awards Night in February to recognise EIT and Primary ITO (Industry Training Organisation) graduates, scholarship recipients and industry contributors. The Napier and Hastings Mayors were both in attendance and acknowledged the hard work being done across the region to grow the sector and workforce. Kurt Livingston from Fern Ridge Fresh took home the ‘Emerging Achiever Award’ and David Styles was presented with the ‘Fourneau Award’ for innovation with his automated apple packing equipment.

Bus driver shortages across the region continue to disrupt services

Seasonal illness and job vacancies continue to impact the bus schedules as they are across urban New Zealand. A reduced timetable has been in place since November 2022 to allow GoBus, the operator contracted by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the time it needs to recruit and train drivers.

bbi Wood Products has a new home

The national wood product distributor and their 32 kaimahi are now located in the Irongate Rd industrial hub in the ‘largest clear span engineered timber structure in the southern hemisphere.’ bbi Wood Products supports local rangatahi into mahi by providing workplace training and employment opportunities for ākonga from Building Futures, a timber processing pre-employment programme also based in Irongate (Hastings).

Our focus for the next 2 months

  • Stakeholder engagements with industry, employers, kaimahi, Councils and Government agencies to determine cyclone related workforce impacts and mitigations
  • Ongoing mahi on actions and recommendations as outlined in Hawke's Bay Regional Workforce Plan
  • Regional Workforce Plan 2023 refresh.

Hawke's Bay Regional Workforce Plan

Prepared by the regionally led Hawke’s Bay Regional Skills Leadership Group.

For further information, please contact: HawkesbayRSLG@mbie.govt.nz

Last updated: 26 April 2023