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Back to the news list Expert evidence in seasonal work slavery trial
11 February 2020 - Media Release - HB Today

New Zealand's first human trafficking and slavery trial will continue in Napier on Wednesday with further expert evidence about the seasonal work in which the offences are alleged to have been committed by a Hawke's Bay labour contractor over the last quarter-century.

The evidence is being given in the High Court jury trial of 65-year-old Joseph Matamata, of Hastings, who denies 13 charges of dealing in slaves and 11 of trafficking, relating to Samoan labour brought to New Zealand to work in Hawke's Bay between 1994 and last year.

One of the South Island's biggest horticulture and viticulture labour providers, who said he doss not know the accused, has started giving evidence about the industry.

In answer to questions from Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker he told Justice Helen Cull and a jury of six men and six women the risk of exploitation of workers was higher if they were outside the terms of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme than if they were part of it.

The RSE scheme, in place since 2007 and under which thousands of workers are brought from the Pacific and other countries each year to fill jobs in the sector with approved contractors and under temporary immigration provisions, has greater regulation than other schemes, he said.

Prosecutors allege most of the most of those who were subject of the charges had been brought to New Zealand illegally.

Earlier yesterday, a Samoan cultural advisor gave evidence of the culture under which workers are brought to New Zealand to work to help provide for families back in Samoa.

With an interpreter present to translate much of the evidence for the accused, the trial started on Monday and is expected to take up to five weeks, with prosecutors Walker and Fiona Cleary scheduling 45 witnesses.
(Proceeding)


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