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Final closure in long-running trafficking and slavery case 3 March 2022

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is welcoming a decision that sees an almost five-year investigation, prosecution, and judicial process come to an end.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is welcoming a decision that sees an almost five-year investigation, prosecution, and judicial process come to an end. 

The Supreme Court has rejected an application made by Joseph Matamata to appeal a Court of Appeal decision that upheld his convictions on people trafficking and slavery charges and directed he serve a minimum of five years in prison. 

In July 2020, Matamata was sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $183,000 in reparations to his victims. It followed his conviction on 10 trafficking and 13 slavery charges. 

Stephen Vaughan, General Manager of Verification and Compliance, says the decision vindicates the strength of the prosecution and the convictions. 

'It’s extremely gratifying to see the hard work of the investigators and the prosecutors, and the commitment of the victims backed up by this decision'. 

Mr Vaughan hopes it also brings some closure to Matamata’s 13 victims. 

'They’ve had to deal with the trauma from Matamata’s offending every day for many years. With appeal avenues now closed, they can finally be assured Matamata has been held accountable for the abuses he committed against them', Mr Vaughan says. 

This prosecution was the first time joint trafficking and slavery charges had been laid against an offender in New Zealand. Immigration New Zealand worked with Police and had the support of Samoan authorities in bringing him to trial. 

INZ encourages anyone aware of people trafficking and migrant exploitation to report it immediately.  

Migrant exploitation cases can be reported to a dedicated exploitation hotline 0800 20 00 88 or online via the Employment New Zealand website:

Reporting migrant exploitation

Offending can also be reported to the New Zealand Police on 105 or 111 (in an emergency). 

Alternatively, cases can be reported anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.