The human trafficking happening today in NZ


At least three investigations probing the scale of human trafficking in New Zealand are underway as examples of restaurant workers being underpaid and sex workers being blackmailed come to light.

The cases are revealed as part of a Herald investigation into human trafficking, which is defined as the movement, deception or coercion of people for the purpose of exploitation.

We can also reveal:

    • Experts are worried an app described as “Tinder for teens” is leaving Kiwi kids open to exploitation.
    • Immigration NZ has launched an industry-wide investigation into massage therapy businesses and parlour. The Herald is aware of raids and a closure.
    • Sex workers overseas are being recruited on Asian chat sites and told New Zealand is where they can make $1000 a day.
    • Migrant sex workers who come here are encountering violence, blackmail and slave-like working conditions, including working 14 hours a day and having to be available at all times.
    • Training programmes are being proposed as a direct response to trafficking – one for restaurant owners on how to be good employers and one for hospitality workers on how to spot child exploitation.“Modern slavery is hidden in plain sight,” Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told the Herald.“Individuals with information . . . may be apprehensive about contacting authorities for assistance, for example due to fear of reprisals,” he said.“Although it is very difficult to detect these crimes, we know it is happening.”Lees-Galloway has called for an inquiry into worker exploitation, and proposals will be presented to Cabinet for consideration within the next few months.

      He said he was in the process of receiving advice from officials, as well as figures and details on cases known, which would help him create the framework for the review.

      A new plan to prevent trafficking, which would include slavery and forced labour, was also underway and would be released later this year, Lees-Galloway said.

      Meanwhile, the Restaurant Association is surveying its members on the extent of exploitation in the industry. The research will include checking how widespread cases of workers being underpaid are.

      It is also hoping to introduce an accreditation system where restaurant owners would be trained to be good employers to avoid trafficking.

      And a local group dedicated to preventing child prostitution, Ecpat Child Alert NZ, is appealing to those in the hospitality industry to adopt a set of guidelines, used by Uber drivers in the US, which trains workers to spot signs of child sex trafficking.


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