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An economist says migrant workers complement what's available in the local labour market.
Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash has outlined an immigration policy "reset" to move away from relying on low-wage migrants.
The plan is to attract people with higher skills instead.
But the New Zealand Initiative's Chief Economist Eric Crampton told Kate Hawkesby in horticulture, for example, there's evidence seasonal workers are important.
"The government's attitude here is predicated on some pretty wrong views about the role of migrants in economy."
He says workers coming in to pick fruit provide security of supply downstream for the industry to be investing in plant, kit and workers in the pack houses and in processing.
"Skill shortages are already hitting New Zealand businesses and it's disappointing to see that the government is continuing to perpetuate a myth that migration suppresses wages."