Over the past four years MyFarm Investments has syndicated four vineyards in the Marlborough region. Sales manager Grant Payton says the question of labour supply has always been top of mind with investors. The opportunity to invest directly into an accommodation facility for seasonal workers was the next logical step in gaining greater confidence with labour supply and may follow in other regions and sectors.
Payton says the MyFarm team has been surprised by the enthusiasm among investors to indirectly support RSE workers and have a positive impact in the Pacific. Hortus calculates that over 8,400 people in the Pacific Islands are reliant on the income generated by their RSE work for Hortus in New Zealand.
“I think kiwi investors like that as well as buying an immaculate property that has been carefully developed for these workers, they are helping give these hard working Pacific people the opportunity to build homes, schools and basic infrastructure that we take for granted in New Zealand,” says Payton.
Hortus employs RSE workers from Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga and despite Covid-19 had its largest team of 384 RSE workers (364 in Marlborough and 20 in Bay of Plenty) for pruning this winter.
Hortus Founder Aaron Jay started the vineyard labour supply business in 2008, the year after the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme was introduced. Since then Hortus has grown alongside the demands for labour on Marlborough vineyards and in 2016 Jay purchased and began developing the Duncannon property.
Hortus will continue to lease the property after the sale and will focus on the core business of providing quality labour in Marlborough. Aaron Jay says he has also discussed expanding the capacity at Duncannon by 80-120 beds to match the anticipated growth in the business.
“The MyFarm syndicate can provide additional capital for the next stage of development, but more importantly they represent a safe and secure long-term owner who share our views on employee well-being.”