Ashburton community group Hakatere Multicultural Council says there needs to be greater understanding from the district's community leaders around some of the issues facing disillusioned migrants who have been "poorly treated" in some instances.
Chairman and former district councillor Selwyn Price said many employers were struggling to come to grips with key issues facing some of their overseas employees, who they had grown to rely on.
"They just haven't been treated well," he said.
"A lot of employers are not used to dealing with immigration issues, cultural issues, bringing employees from overseas."
The group, who assist migrants and newcomers to the district, said the "ruthless" criteria implemented by Immigration NZ had added further adversity for both workers and farm owners.
"If a sharemilker employs an overseas worker and they move from one farm to another, those workers have to re-apply for their visa and in that period they have to stand down," he said.
The rural sector's dependence on a migrant labour force had been exposed as a result of the borders being closed.
There are thousands of open vacancies reported in the agricultural sector throughout the Canterbury region, including about 2000 in the dairy industry alone.
A petition from Ashburton immigration adviser Maria Jimenez has been sent to Parliament asking for the reintroduction of a South Island visa. It received nearly 1000 signatures.
The request was in response to reports throughout the country of migrant workers being lured offshore due to speedier routes to residency in other countries.
- By Adam Burns
Local Democracy Reporter