Slavery in New Zealand: inside the story of the Samoan chief who abused power for profit

Joseph Auga Matamata lured villagers to his adoptive country promising work and study, reaping ‘bags of cash’ from their unpaid forced labour

When Loto* saw the police arrive at the rural property in New Zealand where he had been held captive for nearly two years, the man who had imprisoned him there told him to run. Instead, Loto quietly waited to be discovered by police.

Loto had spent 17 months being held as a slave on a property in Hastings on New Zealand’s North Island. He was never paid for his work and was subject to cruel beatings from Joseph Auga Matamata, a 65-year-old Samoan chief, or matai.

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