Will Migrant Pacific Workers Be a Part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Farming Futures? A call to design future agritech industry transformation plans with a reciprocal framework





agricultural technology (agritech), RSE scheme, collaborative design (co-design), extractivism, ethic of reciprocity, agricultural work


In 2020 and 2023 the New Zealand government depicted a vision for technology-enhanced farming futures in the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan. However, the plan overlooks the critical role of seasonal, migrant Pacific workers in sustaining Aotearoa New Zealand’s horticulture industry. It also contains little practical planning for what a transition from a largely human to a largely robotic workforce should entail. We show how these omissions reflect an extractive framework which threatens workers’ wellbeing and the sustainability of Aotearoa New Zealand’s horticulture industry. We provide recommendations for how future agritech industry plans can consciously adopt a more sustainable reciprocal framework.


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Author Biographies

Sandhiya Gounder, University of Otago

Sandhiya Gounder is enrolled in a PhD in sociology at the University of Otago. Her PhD research explores the Fijian government’s attempt at achieving national unity in Fiji, focusing on the dynamics of tripartite coalition politics in Fiji.

Karly Burch, University of Auckland

Karly Burch (she/her) is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Auckland. Her current research projects explore the material politics of nuclear pollution, artificially intelligent robotics in agriculture, and collaborative research for sustainable technofutures.

Mira O'Connor, University of Auckland

Mira O’Connor is a research assistant at the University of Auckland and completed a master’s in geography at the University of Otago in 2022. Her master’s research was centred around including agricultural workers in an agricultural technology collaborative design project, and reflecting on this process of inclusion through an anti-colonial lens.