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Sealord offers school hours for hoki season

Credit: Stuff NZ

Hoki season is on the horizon and with it comes a busy period for Nelson-based fishing company Sealord.

A number of jobs are ready to be snapped up.

However, with a reduced number of overseas travellers in the Nelson region on working holiday visas, Sealord has added a new “school hours” shift to help more locals take up a hoki season job in its Nelson factory.

The season typically ran from May until September, with many jobs starting in late April.

Needing 300 to 400 additional workers every year, Sealord chief executive Doug Paulin said they had a record 1600 applicants for shore-based and on-board roles in 2020.

As an essential food business, the company was still catching and processing fish throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

“When we were recruiting for last winter’s hoki season, we had to interview people via video calls, so it was more difficult than usual, but it went well,” Paulin said.

“Hoki season work is usually temporary, but we got a new export food order last spring and summer, which meant 80 people could stay in employment afterwards.

One year later, they are rolling into the hoki season again, but still needed more people.

Paulin said many travellers who were working in temporary jobs last year have now gone back to their home countries.

While Sealord was still able to recruit travellers here on working holiday visas, there was “definitely fewer in the country”.

The need to meet the required employee numbers has led Sealord to launch a new school hours shift for its fresh fish line.

“Really this is just an opportunity to test the waters to see if there is any interest in a shift that would appeal to parents who are at home but looking for work while their kids are at school.”

“This is driven by us trying to be innovative and attract labour because in the current environment, there's simply not enough New Zealanders to take up those jobs.

“If this shift goes well, we will retain it for future hoki seasons.”

Paulin said the specific hours were still being worked out, but he envisaged the shift fitting within the 9am and 3pm time frame of most schools.

For those outside of Nelson and Tasman, Sealord was working closely with local backpackers, to make sure there is enough accommodation for the Hoki season.

In terms of work attributes, Sealord is looking for people with a range of skills, including good hand-eye coordination and the ability to stand in a production line for an eight-hour shift in the company's grading and packaging plant.

For more information about these jobs and how to apply, visit the careers section at

Alternatively see the Sealord recruitment team at the MSD Hiring Day at Greenmeadows Community Centre on Thursday between 10am and 1pm, which is open to anyone looking for work.

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