Summary of MBIE Meeting - November 21, 2018


The Long Awaited Meeting:

Megan and I were only allocated an hour to meet with MBIE which was definitely not enough time to discuss everything I would have liked to. However we did get some useful information around what WWOOF needs to do to fit in with the labour laws. Below is a summary of what the MBIE officials said needs to happen;

They said we need to separate the WWOOF volunteering experience from the food and board. According to MBIE if we are saying that it is an exchange, doing something for something, then it is considered gain or reward and therefore payment for work done. We need to show that help from WWOOFers is not a requirement “in return or exchange for” food and board. Rather there are daily activities that your guests can participate in, join in with, help out with or learn about when describing what happens at your place. Visitors join WWOOF for the experience. WWOOFers take part to experience family, to live like a local, to have hands on learning, to feel good about giving back to the country they are travelling in, to see organic and sustainable practices first hand, etc.

If you are reliant on WWOOFers to help in the income producing part of your farm or small business then you may need to follow the employment law requirements. That is; document for wages  and deduct the value of the food, accommodation, wifi, transport etc.

In the follow up correspondence I  have requested that MBIE consider the approach that the Australian and Canadian governments particularly have taken with regards to WWOOF. Given the similarities between our countries there may be some useful legislation that could fit with our situation in New Zealand. These countries have acknowledged the growth and popularity of WWOOF and are supporting the many positive aspects that this type of ‘voluntourism’ brings. Our ideal outcome is for MBIE to show support for WWOOF NZ in a similar way.  

The MBIE officials did say “there is a place for WWOOFing in NZ” so let us see if they genuinely mean that and where they think that place is.

Any feedback or ideas you have are welcome

Thank you Megan Gundesen for your advice and help