New Zealand

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons


New Zealand is a destination country for foreign men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Foreign men and women from China, India, the Philippines, countries in the Pacific and Latin America, South Africa, and the United Kingdom are vulnerable to forced labor in New Zealand’s agricultural, construction, and hospitality sectors, or as domestic workers. Some foreign workers are charged excessive recruitment fees, experience unjustified salary deductions, non- or underpayment of wages, excessively long working hours, restrictions on their movement, passport retention, and contract alteration. Some migrant workers are forced to work in job conditions different from those promised during recruitment but do not file complaints due to fear of losing their temporary visas. Foreign men aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand waters are subjected to forced labor. Foreign women from Asia are at risk of coercive or forced prostitution. Some international students and temporary visa holders are vulnerable to forced labor or prostitution. A small number of Pacific Island and New Zealand (often of Maori descent) girls and boys are at risk of sex trafficking in street prostitution. Some children are recruited by other girls or compelled by family members into prostitution.

The Government of New Zealand fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government passed and enacted the Omnibus Crime Bill, which amended the definition of trafficking to define the offense as one of exploitation not requiring transnational movement. The government increased prosecutions of traffickers, but the punishments imposed were insufficient given the seriousness of the crimes. The government made its first certifications of trafficking victims and increased efforts to inform visa holders of worker rights and support services. The government continued to implement the Fisheries Foreign Charter Vessels Amendments, scheduled to come into full effect May 1, 2016, which led two fishing vessels considered at high risk of labor exploitation to choose not to renew their licenses to fish in New Zealand waters to avoid the additional scrutiny. The government expanded compliance checks to ensure work contracts matched those used to apply for work visas and met legal standards. The government, however, did not consistently identify trafficking victims in vulnerable sectors and continued to treat possible forced labor cases as labor violations.


Increase efforts to identify victims through proactive screening of vulnerable populations, including women and children in prostitution, foreign workers, and illegal migrants; amend the new law to ensure that trafficking offenses are not punished by a fine alone and to define the sex trafficking of children not to require the use of force, fraud or coercion; significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and sentence traffickers to penalties commensurate with the seriousness of the crime; update the national action plan to address current trafficking trends in the country; assess the full extent of sex trafficking involving children and foreign women, and labor trafficking involving migrant workers; and continue anti-trafficking awareness campaign to reduce demand of forced labor and sexual commercial exploitation, especially of children and foreign women.


The government increased law enforcement efforts. Parliament passed and enacted the Omnibus Crime Bill which substantially conforms the definition of trafficking with international law by defining the crime of trafficking in persons as a crime of exploitation not requiring transnational movement of the victim. The bill amended the Crime Act of 1961, Section 98D and defined the crime to include the reception, recruitment, transport, transfer, concealment or harboring of a person for the purpose of exploitation, defined as the deception or coercion causing a person to be involved in prostitution or other sexual services, slavery and practices similar to slavery, servitude, forced labor or other forced services and the removal of organs. It does not include a provision making the sex trafficking of a child a crime regardless of deception or coercion, which is inconsistent with international law. Further, the penalty of a term not exceeding 20 years’ imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $500,000 or both is generally not sufficiently stringent because of the possibility that a fine can be imposed in lieu of imprisonment. Further, with regards to sex trafficking, the penalty is insufficient because it is not a penalty commensurate with that imposed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

In 2015, the government completed its first trafficking prosecution under the crime act, involving 18 victims from India and two defendants. While this case marked the first time the government used the provision to prosecute suspected traffickers, no evidence of forced labor was found. The defendants were found guilty of immigration fraud and sentenced to 25 months’ imprisonment and 10 months’ home detention, respectively. The government reported convicting one sex trafficker in a case involving two victims brought into the country under false employment agreements. The court found the defendant guilty of providing false immigration information and inciting employees to breach visa conditions and sentenced her to 27 months’ imprisonment. In two separate cases involving six and four Indian victims of forced labor in restaurants, three defendants were sentenced to home detention and reparation payments to victims; these penalties were not sufficient to deter the crime and inconsistent with international standards. The government began prosecution of one trafficker in a case involving 16 migrant workers charged large recruitment fees and subjected to conditions indicative of forced labor. That case remained pending at the end of the reporting period. Government officials pointed to the enactment of the Organized Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Bill as the means for more effective prosecution of trafficking crimes, which had previously been prosecuted under other charges with lesser penalties. The government continued to train police, labor inspectors, and immigration officials on victim identification and indicators of trafficking, but it did not report training prosecutors or judiciary officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.


The government’s victim protection efforts modestly increased. In 2015, the government made its first certifications of trafficking victims. All were labor trafficking victims, 16 from a case currently awaiting trial and 18 from a case concluded in January 2016. It provided temporary work visas to the 34 victims. The government did not report providing direct services or protection to potential victims mentioned in other investigations or prosecutions. The government reported having standardized questions to identify victims of trafficking but it only identified a small number of victims. Labor inspectors reported visiting legal brothels to ensure working conditions were in compliance with the law, but this did not result in the identification of any adult sex trafficking victims. Labor inspectors reported conducting routine audits in work places that employ migrant workers; they identified breaches of labor standards, but these did not result in investigations or prosecutions of forced or coerced labor exploitation. The government reported a policy of referring women and child victims of general crime to services; it was unclear if it had such a policy for men or it applied it to trafficking victims. The government did not operate any shelters specifically for trafficking victims; on a case-by-case basis, the government reported providing assistance, such as food and shelter, to victims of crimes and referred them to NGOs or other service providers. The law authorizes the extension of temporary residency to trafficking victims for up to 12 months and makes them eligible for a variety of government-provided or -funded services while their cases are under investigation. There were no reports of victims being detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as trafficking victims; however, some may have been as a result of inadequate government efforts to identify victims. The government reported providing legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of crime to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, but no trafficking victims received this benefit in 2015. Victims could seek restitution through civil claims; some labor exploitation cases resulted in restitution for labor violations.


The government increased prevention efforts. The government continued to implement the Fisheries Foreign Charter Vessels Amendment, scheduled to come into full effect May 1, 2016, which requires all foreign charter vessels fishing in New Zealand waters to operate as New Zealand-flagged vessels and abide by its health and labor laws. The government reported two fishing vessels considered to be at high risk of labor exploitation chose not to renew their licenses to fish in New Zealand waters due to the increased scrutiny. In September 2015, the government signed a bilateral agreement with the Philippines to improve the transparency of recruitment of Filipino migrant workers in New Zealand and reduce their vulnerability. As part of these efforts, immigration authorities reviewed the employment contracts of some Filipino migrant workers upon arrival in the country to verify their contracts matched those previously filed and provided guidelines to employers of Filipino workers outlining their legal obligations. The government sent welcome emails to all approved residence, work, and student visa holders with information on workers’ rights and employment support services in 13 languages. The Labor Inspectorate published two reports on vulnerable workers in the construction and hospitality industries on its website. The government presented new editions of guides for migrant dairy workers and their employers on workers’ rights, employers’ responsibilities, and support services. In an attempt to reduce the demand for forced labor, the government increased compliance tests of employment contracts used in work visa applications and issued media statements about labor compliance audit results and prosecutions of labor exploitation cases. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel. The government continued to cooperate with foreign governments to identify child sex tourists in New Zealand and to prioritize the prevention of child sex tourism abroad by its residents, although these efforts did not result in any investigations or prosecutions.