MBIE and IRD - August 25, 2018

Recognised Categories for WWOOF

Following on from our last update we would like to invite hosts to be part of a case study for making submissions to the government. The aim is to have certain categories of WWOOFing recognised and accepted by MBIE and IRD.
One of the categories we would like to propose to MBIE is a Cultural Category. This would include hosts who have no commercial aspect to their property. There are currently hosts who work in their home orchard, vegetable garden, look after hens for their own eggs or milk a house cow but they don’t really sell anything. WWOOFers join in with the hosts’ normal  daily life as any member of the family/guest would. They do this because they enjoy and believe in this lifestyle and want to learn how to manage living organically.

Another proposed category that many hosts fit in to is Small Enterprise. These hosts, along with fitting in to the Cultural Category, also grow or make and sell produce from their farm. This may be selling at a weekly farmers market or supplying a local organic store. WWOOFers have fantastic opportunities to learn skills by being involved in the wide variety of enterprises hosts are running.

We have a meeting scheduled with Gerard from Iain Lees-Galloways office (Minister for MBIE), David from the Labour part of MBIE and we are asking for someone from the Immigration part of MBIE to attend as well. We are asking them to change their interpretation of  the law regarding WWOOFers on non commercial properties. We will present them with some proposals that we hope will give some clarity on what is acceptable to the government. These proposals may include the length of stay and the maximum hours of help per week.  Our argument is that WWOOF is primarily a visitor activity that gives people an opportunity to live with New Zealand families and learn about our lifestyles. Therefore it is not employment, minimum wage is not appropriate and a tourist permit is all that should be required for those staying short term on a WWOOF property as part of a visitors experience while touring our country.

For those that MBIE consider to be small enterprises our view is that it would not be in IRD’s interests to have hosts declaring the value of the “payment” (food, accommodation etc) to WWOOFers as the hosts also have many expenses they could off-set against i.e. the cost of the food, accommodation, power, water, internet, transport etc. There are currently exemptions similar to this regarding people who have boarders and also those working with DoC. The conditions would be made transparent to satisfy MBIE that no exploitation is happening.

If you would like to be part of the case study then please get in touch with me hello@wwoof.nz. We would like to work with three hosts who fit in the Cultural Category and three hosts who fit in the Small Enterprise Category. We need to produce a summary of what you are doing with the aim of showing MBIE how a ruling can work in a positive way for all involved.

We’d love to hear your suggestions around this. Maybe you have other ideas we can include in our discussions with the various government departments.

All the best
Jane, Andrew & Alannah