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Mr Apple packhouse experience

« To keep the doctor away, eat an apple a day »!


Well that’s one easy thing to do when you work at Mr Apple. We had read about this company, employing over 1500 people during peak season,
on Seasonal Jobs’ website as we first arrived in New Zealand. We happily drove our way through the North Island, and when we got to Hawke’s Bay we thought we might knock on Mr Apple’s door and give it a try. As everyone else, we did want to reach South Island with a little something in our pockets. A call on Saturday and a short form filled on Monday, that’s what it took to get started on Tuesday!


We would work night shifts at the Whakatu Packhouse, 6 days a week, from 3.30pm to 12.30am, with two 30 minutes break amusingly called “smoko”, and would be paid 13$ per hour for 5 weeks. Doesn’t matter what your background is, as long as your back works! The Packhouse atmosphere felt warm and friendly at once. People coming to work in their bright yellow uniform shirt seemed to have arrived from every continent. Chinese people, Koreans, South Africans, Polish, Irish, others from Samoa, Tahiti, the usual Kiwis and now us French! A real international melting-pot gathered to provide the best apples to the world.


That being said, our manager warned us at once, it’s not an easy job, involving a lot of standing, twisting, speeding and lifting. The job consists in sorting out good apples from bad ones, placing the good apples on trays, turning them around so they are lined up and have their red side up, and all this, at the speed of lightning. The first day was a complete nightmare, we felt as if we were in hell, a place filled with apples, coming at you so fast that you got completely overwhelmed and ended up drowning beneath a sea of apples. In French, the saying “tomber dans les pommes” literally “falling into apples” means fainting, and this first day at work I thought: it must have been someone working in a Packhouse that invented that saying. Hopefully, plenty of nice people came to help us and give
us some good tips! They said that our back would be killing us for a few days, but that after a week, we wouldn’t feel any more pain. And that’s what happened.


As the days went by, we got better and better at handling those apples, crunchy Pink Lady apples, beautiful NZ Roses, shiny Granny Smiths but mostly funky Fujis, coming in different sizes. Sometimes, we could even handle both our apples and a conversation about the Chinese society today or Maori language with our neighbor. Speaking of languages, the Packhouse is better than school when it comes to learn foreign languages. Everybody comes to ask us some useful French
words, and we got taught a good deal of Samoa!


After a week, we also tried to vary activities, packing apples away by putting trays in boxes. We noticed that everyday had its share of good and bad. One day it’s pay day, one day it’s chocolate cookie for everyone, one day it’s meeting a new pal, and then another day it’s crazy speedy day when both fingers and eyes turn as red as the apples. And then you realize, it’s not sheep that you count as you go to sleep... But the good atmosphere always makes up for it, and with such a good team, it came as no surprise when everyone arrived dressed as a rabbit the day before Easter and chocolate eggs were handed out to all of us!


Also, no doubt that working night shifts in a Packhouse had its share of advantages: no one asks you for a degree or even if you speak English, you don’t depend on the weather to go to work and you get to enjoy the morning in beautiful Hawke’s Bay and discover plenty of nice places around Napier, Cape Kidnappers or the Te Mata Peak.


Here is all the info you need to have your own Mr Apple experience:

Address of the Pachouse: Station Road – Whakatu (Between Napier and Hastings)

Phone: 06 873 1061 / 06 873 1070


Seasonal work starts in February : graders , packers, tray fillers, stackers, quality controllers, packers.

Submitted by: Caroline Fullenwarth
Date submitted: 2/05/2011 8:08:39 PM

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Wilding Pines Sun Jul 17

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Mr Apple packhouse experience Mon May 2

North Island Notes Wed Apr 20

Fruitpicking in Napier Wed Apr 20

blueberry harvest season Thu Apr 7

bbq on the beach and if you lucky see some Dolphis too Thu Apr 7

Mate! You are on fire!! Sun Mar 20

The real vineyard work lowdown Fri Mar 11

I had pretty much run out of cash Wed Mar 9

The Land of New Zealand Mon Feb 28

Work in backpackers in exchange for accommodation Sat Feb 26

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Traditional Maori hangi Thu Feb 17

Fortune Fruit and spitting cherry pits competitions Tue Feb 15

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Tips from Latvia...yes not Russia ;) Tue Mar 16

First Job Thinning Apples... Mon Mar 1

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Loving New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

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A Czech in New Zealand.. Fri Feb 5

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