The Immigration Minister has defended the lack of migrant workers, saying the Government's doing everything it can.
Fruit growers claim there are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of produce going to waste, and they can't last another year without more seasonal workers.
The Apple and Pear industry is predicting a loss of more than $600 million to the economy, with crop forecasts down 14 percent on last year.
There's an estimated 7,000 Recognised Seasonal Employer workers here, along with 2,000 that were given border exemptions at the start of the year.
Minister Kris Faafoi told Mike Hosking they pulled major strings to get the last border exemptions through.
"It was a difficult ask to get 2,000 workers through, and officials worked like the clappers to make sure they could bring that number of people through in a window of two to three months."
He says the exemptions will be limited, and it will be a long-term challenge for the industry to shift to more Kiwi workers.
"The sector itself is going to have a labour challenge. They took it upon themselves, and we encouraged them, to make sure they could max out the number of opportunities for New Zealanders."