Appeal dismissed against convicted Samoan Chief, for human trafficking and slavery in New Zealand


New Zealand’s highest court has upheld the convictions of the first ever person to be convicted of both human trafficking and slavery in New Zealand.

Joseph Matamata was sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $183,000 in reparations after he was convicted of 10 trafficking and 13 slavery charges in July 2020.

Radio New Zealand reports the Supreme Court rejected an application by Matamata to appeal a Court of Appeal ruling which upheld his convictions.

Matamata, a Samoan chief, was convicted in March 2020 for bringing 13 Samoans to New Zealand and exploiting them for more than two decades.

Last April, he appealed his convictions arguing the trial judge had misled the jury over what constituted slavery, while the Crown appealed his sentence, saying it was too lenient.

But the Court of Appeal dismissed his bid in August. They also dismissed the Crown’s bid to increase the man’s 11-year sentence, but ruled he must serve at least five years in prison.

In a statement, Immigration New Zealand said it welcomed the decision, which brings an almost five-year process to an end.