Ramadan 'easier in winter'
The bellies of numerous Muslim vineyard workers in Marlborough are rumbling as they observe the month-long Muslim ritual of Ramadan.
Ramadan, which began on July 20, marks the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast during daylight hours.
Marlborough vineyard contractor Ace Viticulture has been recruiting Indonesian workers, most of whom are Muslim, under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme for four years and prior to that under the Department of Labour's Approval In Principle for two years.
About 68 Indonesians make up half of the workforce for the vineyard contractor; the rest are recruited from Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, and Marlborough, with a handful of backpackers from Europe and Asia.
About 55 of the Indonesian workers are Muslims, most of whom were from Java, while the rest were Christian.
Owner Ashish Sawant said that in all the years he had hired Indonesian workers, Ramadan had not altered their output.
"They do twice the amount of work as vineyard workers of other nationalities," he said.
"They're some of the best workers in the group."
Muslims are only allowed to eat before sunrise and after sunset during this month, something which vineyard worker Hubert Floryanto believes is a lot easier with New Zealand's short daylight hours during winter compared to Indonesia's year-round lengthy equatorial daylight hours.
The first three days of fasting were the hardest, but you soon got used to it, Mr Floryanto said.
It was easy to be short-tempered but fasting with others provided a feeling of solidarity, he said.
He and co-workers Eko Jatti and Adi Siswanto said they enjoyed earning good money in New Zealand, as well as the cool climate and friendly people. "The best part is getting paid," Mr Floryanto said.
- The Marlborough Express