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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                  

New Zealand

Over the past 20 years the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes - but left behind some at the bottom of the ladder - and broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector. Per capita income has risen for nine consecutive years and reached $27,900 in 2008 in purchasing power parity terms.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: NewZealand

New Zealand is a source country for underage girls trafficked internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. It is also reportedly a destination country for women from Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, Eastern Europe, and other Asian countries trafficked into forced prostitution.

Unskilled Asians and Pacific Islanders migrate to New Zealand voluntarily to work legally or illegally in the agricultural sector, and women from the Philippines migrate legally to work as nurses. Some of these workers report that manpower agencies placed them in positions of involuntary servitude or debt bondage by charging them escalating and unlimited recruiting fees, imposing unjustified salary deductions on them, restricting their travel by confiscating their passports, and significantly altering contracts or working conditions without their agreement. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in New Zealand.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

New Zealand Police

Emergency: 111

Non-emergency: station numbers can be found at:



Child Trafficking

New Zealand Ministry of Justice - published before October 2003 by the Dept of Courts & the previous Ministry of Justice

[accessed 23 February 2011]

[accessed 4 May 2020]

CHILD TRAFFICKING TO NEW ZEALAND - While trafficking to New Zealand may be a relatively small problem, organisations such as the Human Rights Commission and the Police acknowledge that it has the potential to become a growing problem. Throughout the world the trafficking of people from socio-economically deprived circumstances has increased markedly.

The New Zealand Police estimate that there are over 500 Thai women in the sex industry in Auckland alone. However, it is impossible to determine how many of them are under 18 years of age, and thus, inherently able to be considered to have been victims of trafficking. There are many obstacles that prevent trafficked children from coming to the attention of the police or other authorities. The majority of the girls are under constant surveillance by their traffickers. In addition, they may fear the police or believe that they will be in trouble with New Zealand authorities. The Human Rights Commission has received a number of telephone calls from health personnel reporting incidents of Thai girls, under 18 years of age, seeking medical attention, who had been subjected to sexual violence. However, by the time the Police have become involved it has been discovered that the addresses given are false or the girls have been moved to a new location.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Jury adjourns for night in case of Samoan chief accused of human trafficking, slavery

Sean Hogan, one-news, 16 March 2020

[accessed 16 March 2020]

It's alleged Matamata brought people from Samoa to New Zealand with the promise of a better life for their families by working and earning money in the horticulture industry.

However, once in New Zealand, Matamata did not pay them for the work completed, which often involved long hours for days on end, prosecutors contend.

Multiple witnesses for the Crown have alleged Matamata physically abused them if they did not obey his rules or tried to leave the property.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: New Zealand

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 18 June 2021]


Media reports during the year suggested migrant workers were vulnerable to forced labor in sectors including horticulture, retail, agriculture, construction, hospitality, and domestic service. Reports stated that some migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, and China, among other countries, were charged excessive and escalating recruitment fees, experienced unjustified salary deductions, nonpayment or underpayment of wages, excessively long working hours, and restrictions on their movement. Some had their passports confiscated and contracts altered improperly. Victims were often deterred from filing complaints out of fear of jeopardizing their visa status.


Small numbers of children ages 16 to 18 worked in hazardous situations, such as in agriculture: The law requires them to be fully trained. Children younger than 15 cannot drive a tractor or large vehicle, except children working in agriculture if they are older than 12 and are fully trained or are being trained, or if they live on the property. Concerns remained about the commercial sexual exploitation of children (see section 6, Children).

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Residents generally have access to economic opportunities, but the Māori and Pacific Islander populations have disproportionately high rates of unemployment, affecting their economic and social mobility.

Migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitative conditions including forced labor in industries such as fishing, agriculture, construction, hospitality, and domestic service. The government has taken action to combat these abuses.

UN expert warns NZ over human trafficking problem

Julie Middleton, The New Zealand Herald, Dec 21, 2005

[accessed 23 February 2011]

[accessed 8 February 2018]

Human trafficking is probably far more prevalent in New Zealand than most people realise, says Sigma Huda, the United Nations' first special rapporteur on human trafficking.  Most people thought of human trafficking as forcibly smuggling women across borders to work as prostitutes, she said, but it was much broader than that. It could also count among its victims mail-order brides - "you have lots of ads for those in New Zealand" - migrant workers, foreign fishermen and those in arranged marriages.  While people could enter such situations quite willingly, said Mrs Huda, they could lose their autonomy and freedom, become trapped, and become trafficked.

New Zealand Rubbishes US Claims Of Child Trafficking

Source:,2106,3236096a11,00.html,  03 April 2005

[accessed 30 June 2013]

A US State Department report made the allegation last month - for the second time in a year - despite claims it had misrepresented prostitution data. Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff was scathing about the statement. "If the United States were to judge itself by the same standards it is applying to New Zealand, it would be found to be wanting," Goff said. "Of course we don't have a problem in trafficking in children."

US report on NZ challenged

ECPAT News, 17 June 2004

[accessed 9 September 2011]

ECPAT spokeswoman Denise Ritchie says the US report implies New Zealand has a serious problem with child trafficking, but that impression results from the distortion of her organisation's report.   Ms Ritchie says that unless the US report authors offer an alternative source for their information, they are being unethical in making assumptions about the severity of the New Zealand situation.   The report also states the Government is complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but Foreign Minister Phil Goff says it is doing much more than required.

Human trafficking: Asia's persistent tragedy

Marwaan Macan-Markar, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Bangkok, Oct 10, 2002

[accessed 23 February 2011]

[accessed 8 February 2018]

For its part, New Zealand is being used by traffickers of Thai women as a "departure point for Japan, Australia and Cyprus", stated the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women for Asia-Pacific, a non-governmental organization.

The Protection Project - New Zealand [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Trafficking to New Zealand may be a relatively small problem, but it is a growing one.  The Human Rights Commission has received a number of telephone calls from health personnel reporting incidents of Thai girls younger than 18 years of age who had been subjected to sexual violence.  Thai women forced into prostitution in New Zealand work more than 12 hours a day and are coerced into having unsafe sex. They have little or no access to information about their legal rights or health issues.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Commercial sexual exploitation of children was a problem. Under the Prostitution Reform Act, it is illegal to use a person under 18 years of age in prostitution. A study by the PLRC completed in April 2004 estimated that approximately 200 young persons under the age of 18 were working as prostitutes. During the year 3 brothel operators and 1 client were prosecuted for the use of persons under age 18 in prostitution. The client and two of the brothel operators were convicted, and one operator was awaiting trial at year's end. The government worked with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to address trafficking in children and provided funding for NGO outreach programs in Auckland and Christchurch that provided accommodations and other support for young persons at risk for involvement in prostitution. The government had a national plan of action against the commercial exploitation of children developed in concert with NGOs and completed a progress review of the plan during the year; its report on the review was scheduled for release in 2006.

Shakti Migrant Services Trust, an anti-trafficking NGO, reported abuses resulting from the immigration of Indian women for arranged marriages and provided services to abused women through four refuges located in three cities: Auckland, Christchurch, and Tauranga. In December the UN's special rapporteur on human trafficking, while on a private visit to the country, asserted in the press that although in many cases such groups as mail-order brides, migrant workers, foreign fishermen, and those in arranged marriages enter the country voluntarily, they could be at risk of losing their autonomy and becoming victims of trafficking.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – New Zealand",, [accessed <date>]