Working the vines: ni-Vanuatu labour, Central Otago Pinot, and economic development in Vanuatu

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter discusses changes of labour and wine production in New Zealand with a focus on Central Otago in the South Island, where I have conducted ethnographic research from 2007 to 2012. It shows how the production of wine has changed the landscape of this region, and how the increased demand for the quality wines being produced in the area has also increased the need for seasonal labourers. The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) introduced by the New Zealand government in 2007 has added to other traditional forms of seasonal labour employment practices in the province. I discuss therefore how some employers in the industry evaluate this scheme in terms of employment relations and overall viticulture production. The majority of RSE workers employed in Central Otago are from Vanuatu. Vanuatu is a Pacific island nation situated north-west of New Zealand. It is an archipelago of 83 islands and has a population of approximately 240,000.1 It is estimated that 76 per cent of ni-Vanuatu2 live in rural subsistence areas3 where there are limited employment opportunities. This is the first time that Vanuatu has been invited by the New Zealand government to participate in a seasonal worker scheme in New Zealand. My research participants travel annually, between October and May each year, to work in the vineyards of Central Otago. Their aim is to earn comparatively high incomes to take home and to ensure they provide good and reliable viticulture productivity for their employer, which also guarantees a renewal of contracts each subsequent season. Most of my niVanuatu research participants have been doing this for five years, between 2007 and 2012. This case study demonstrates that the production of New Zealand wine is not only making an impact on the country’s domestic and international markets, but it is also changing lifestyles back in the homes of the labourers in Vanuatu itself.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSocial, Cultural and Economic Impacts of Wine in New Zealand
    Editors Peter J. Howard
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN (Print)9780415639798
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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