Help for victims of people trafficking

Migrant victims of people trafficking can access special visas, welfare support and healthcare. Reporting suspected cases of people trafficking helps protect victims and ensures offenders can be held accountable.


More information is available about people trafficking in New Zealand.

People trafficking

People trafficking is the process of moving someone using coercion or deception, or so they can be badly exploited. People trafficking can take place across borders or entirely within a country.

What is people trafficking? Information for the community and government PDF 2MB

People trafficking does not only happen to migrants, though migrants can be particularly vulnerable due to their reliance on others for visas, jobs or money, or their unfamiliarity with local laws, customs and languages.

Migrant victims in particular are often tricked with false promises of jobs or schooling then badly exploited once they arrive in New Zealand. Exploitation can include being forced to work by threats of violence, threats of deportation or to repay debts. This work can include sex work, domestic work like cooking and cleaning or work in a restaurant, shop or labouring.

Victims do not usually realise they have been trafficked and may blame themselves for getting themselves into a dangerous situation. Sometimes people agree to their initial movement and some degree of exploitation only to find out once they are unable to leave or resist, that the actual situation is much worse than they expected.

How to recognise trafficking

Are you in a trafficking situation? Ask yourself:

  • has someone taken your passport and money?
  • are there locks on your doors or windows to stop you from leaving your workplace or where you live?
  • do you need to ask permission to eat, sleep or go to the toilet?
  • do you have no time off, for example, to go shopping and meet other people?
  • does your employer pay you low wages or none at all?
  • does your employer force you to work to pay off debt?
  • has someone threatened you or your family with violence, jail or deportation if you do not cooperate?
  • have you travelled or been recruited for work that has turned out to be illegal, paid less than you were promised or not paid at all?

A person may need help if they:

  • live at their place of work – look for locks on the outside of doors
  • have ‘rehearsed’ statements and stories
  • do not have money or any form of ID because their passport is being withheld
  • work long hours and have no time off
  • have an ‘escort’ or ‘translator’ who speaks on their behalf
  • have an unusual fear of their employer and authorities
  • show signs of neglected mental or physical health with the possibility of substance abuse or self-harm.

View and download this information in:

English PDF 184KB

Chinese PDF 478KB

Malay PDF 184KB

Vietnamese PDF 209KB

Samoan PDF 183KB

Tongan PDF 184KB

Fijian PDF 177KB

Hindi PDF 198KB

Tagalog PDF 176KB

Maori PDF 176KB

Who to contact for help

If you, or someone you know, might be a victim of people trafficking, contact the New Zealand Police:

  • Call 105 or 111 (in an emergency), or
  • Report online

Non-emergency reporting | New Zealand Police

If you, or someone you know, has been exploited at work, even if it is not forced labour or connected to trafficking, contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE):

  • Call 0800 20 00 88, or
  • Report online.

Migrant exploitation | Employment New Zealand

If you want to anonymously report people trafficking or exploitation, contact CrimeStoppers:

  • Call CrimeStoppers 0800 555 111, or
  • Report online.


Protection and assistance for victims of people trafficking

After an allegation is received and assessed, migrant victims of people trafficking will be ‘certified’ by New Zealand Police. Certification enables access to a number of support services that may not otherwise be available to them in New Zealand.

Victims who are New Zealand citizens or residents can access support services through Victim Support.

The New Zealand Government is committed to eliminating people trafficking and protecting victims, including those victims who may have breached their visas or who are in New Zealand unlawfully.

Visas for victims of people trafficking

Police-certified victims of people trafficking can apply for special visas that allow them to stay in New Zealand and work, study or live here permanently in some cases.

Healthcare for victims of people trafficking

Police-certified victims of people trafficking are eligible to receive publically funded healthcare under Section B12 of the Ministry of Health’s Eligibility Direction.

Health and Disability Services Eligibility Direction 2011

Welfare support for victims of people trafficking

Police-certified victims of people trafficking may be eligible for welfare support, administered by the Ministry of Social Development, under Clause 15E of the Special Needs Grants Programme.

Clause 15E. Victims of people trafficking | Work and Income

Migrant Exploitation

Exploitation is not always connected to people trafficking but exploitation alone can have significant impacts on victims.

Migrant exploitation 

There is a special work visa available for migrants who have been exploited by their employer, even if they have not been trafficked. This is called the Migrant Exploitation and Protection Visa.

Migrant Exploitation and Protection Visa