Samoan teens allegedly kept as slaves by Hastings chief

Joseph Auga Matamata in court.
Joseph Auga Matamata in court. Photo credit: RNZ/ Anusha Bradley.


The aunt of two Samoan teenagers, who were allegedly kept as slaves by a Hastings-based chief, says he threatened to kill her nephew when he ran away to her house.

The boy was 17 years old when he was brought to New Zealand for work by Joseph Auga Matamata in 1994. Matamata denies 24 charges of human trafficking and slavery over a 20-year period.

Now aged 43, the man finished giving evidence this morning as the trial heads into its second week at the High Court in Napier.

The boy's aunt told the court that her nephew ran away to her house, also in Hastings, in 1996.

"I asked him why and [he] said he was tired of being a slave ... and tired of Auga treating him like a slave."

The next day while she was at church Joseph Matamata came to her house, she said.

When she got home, Matamata called the police who turned up and asked the boy where he wanted to live, she told the court.

When the boy said he wanted to stay with his aunt, Matamata threatened to kill the boy, she said speaking though an interpreter.

"Auga said to [him] 'you will see when I get to you... I will kill you. He said in Samoan "I will kill you".

Last week, the court heard from the boy's sister who was 15 years old when she was brought to New Zealand by Joseph Matamata.

She came on the understanding she would attend school, but ended up cooking and cleaning and looking after Matamata's children at his house, where she was locked in the compound every day.

The court was told how she also ran away to Auckland after several beatings from Matamata, who then tracked her down and brought her back to Hastings in a car with her hands and wrists tied.

She later escaped again and fled to a friend's place, who helped her return to Samoa.