Teens ready and raring for orchard work

Pruning raspberry bushes in Ettrick yesterday are (from left) Cashmere High School pupil Flora...
Pruning raspberry bushes in Ettrick yesterday are (from left) Cashmere High School pupil Flora Dean, Darfield High School Jeremy McLauchlan (both 17) and 18-year-old University of Canterbury student Hannah Hawkins. PHOTO: JARED MORGAN
A group of Canterbury teens have forgone Netflix and Xbox these school holidays — lured to Ettrick for orchard work.

The group of five pupils and one university student are working at 20ha pipfruit operation Ettrick Gardens, four of them having earlier taken part in the berry season.

They stand in stark contrast to some of the workforce recruited to work a season mired in labour shortages due to a lack of backpackers and recognised seasonal employer workers from the Pacific.

Where some New Zealanders have complained about working conditions, the group said they were made of sterner stuff.

The senior of the group, Canterbury University law and arts student Hannah Hawkins, said she had returned a week ahead of her Cantabrian cohorts and she liked the organisation behind the work.

"It’s [the work and accommodation is] pretty convenient and it is all organised. All we really need to do is be here," Miss Hawkins said.

"I mean this [Ettrick], for me, is a pretty random place to end up."

For Miss Hawkins the idea of being outside beat out alternative holiday jobs.

"It’s better than customer service. I’m getting a good tan and it’s pleasant."

The 8am-5pm work left little time for "mischief" but also offered her the opportunity to study in her downtime, she said.

Orchard owner John Preedy said four of the group of six had worked for him during the berry-picking season and he was happy for the help.

He had put the group to work pruning raspberry bushes — which was being done earlier this year.

"I don’t usually prune raspberries this early."

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