[17 December/Radio NZ]

A 64-year-old Samoan man with New Zealand residency has been arrested for human trafficking and slavery after allegedly bringing Samoan nationals to New Zealand to work for him illegally. It is alleged that the man has been regularly bringing Samoan nationals to work for him in the horticultural industry in Hawke’s Bay since the 1990s. The man has appeared in the Hastings District Court on charges relating to 10 victims, who he is accused of using as slaves, which carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. The man is also accused of arranging entry to New Zealand for eight Samoans by deceiving them. He was arrested following a two-year investigation by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the police. INZ assistant general manager Peter Devoy said that allegations made by victims include not being paid for work completed, having their passports taken and being subjected to physical assaults and threats. The owners of the orchards that had used the man as a contractor are not facing charges. Detective Inspector Mike Foster of Eastern District Police said that it is becoming more common to see exploitation in the labour force, adding that the New Zealand labour force is changing and that migrants make up a significant portion of workers in some industries and regions of the country. The man will appear in the Napier High Court next month.