Samoan national arrested for human trafficking and slavery named

A 64-year-old Samoan national charged with 18 counts of human trafficking and slavery over a 23-year period in Hawke's Bay can now be named as Viliamu Samu.

An Immigration New Zealand spokeswoman said the department understands he is better known in the community as "Joseph Matamata".

The orchard worker from Camberly, Hastings who has New Zealand residency, appeared in Hastings District Court this morning following a two-year investigation by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the Police.

Victims say Mr Samu closely controlled and monitored their movements, including where they went and who they contacted and he is believed to have promised people well-paid jobs.

Court documents show Mr Samu is charged with using 10 people as slaves between 1994 and 2017. He also faces eight charges of arranging the entry of people from Samoa into New Zealand by deceiving between 2003 and 2017.

He's accused of committing the offences in Samoa and across the Hawke's Bay region.

It is not known whether any of them remain in New Zealand.

Each slavery charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison while the human trafficking charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison or a $500,000 fine.

Mr Samu was granted bail and will appear in the Napier High Court on 28 January.


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