Major criminal investigation after dozens of migrants discovered living in squalid Auckland home

A major criminal investigation is underway after dozens of migrants were discovered crowded inside a squalid three-bedroom home in south Auckland.

It's alleged the men paid thousands of dollars for employment agreements with local recruitment contractors, but since arriving they've received no work or pay.

On Sunday night, the men called police after their food ran out and they were forced to turn to begging.

Forty men were crammed into the filthy, overcrowded three-bedroom home in Auckland for months on end, sharing a single shower and cooking over one stove.

"Three days, we don't have nothing to eat, only just drinking water. No food, nothing. No food, sir, we are only drinking water," said Indian migrant Prasad Babu.

Newshub visited the Papakura property on Sunday night and found dozens of migrants crowding their street after calling in local police.

It's a last resort. They say they paid tens of thousands of dollars each for job offers and signed contracts with New Zealand recruitment contractors, but haven't worked an hour or seen a cent.

"You guys took $20,000 from us to get a job. Why did you promise us you can give a better life here? There is no better life here," Babu said.

Instead of a better life, they've turned to begging.

"Like beggars, we are going to the temple and eating the food there. I'm a Christian, I can't even go to the temple, Indo Temple, but I'm going because I need food."

They arrived via the accredited employer work visa scheme but instead of jobs, they're on the breadline - and it's not just them.

"Three months we have been suffering here. We didn't send even one dollar back to my family and my children. How can they eat?" Babu said.

Prasad Babu and the home he and 40 migrants live in.
Prasad Babu and the home he and 40 migrants live in. Photo credit: Newshub.

Union Network of Migrants president Mandeep Bela walked Newshub through the property on Sunday night. Several men were crammed into a porta com out the front, suitcases were piled up into a lounge that doubles as a laundry, tiny back rooms were full of mattresses, while others sleep in the garage.

"In terms of work visa schemes - scam schemes - this is really at another level," Bela said.

Immigration New Zealand has launched a major investigation into alleged visa fraud and migrant exploitation, which are serious criminal offences.

"Once the investigation is complete, if the charges are proven we will prosecute and we will take serious action against any offenders," said Steve Watson, immigration compliance and investigations general manager.

So how widespread are scenes like this? The Ministry concedes it simply doesn't know.

"Um, makes me sad for the integrity of the system being called into question because there are a large number of employers and people who come to this country and have a positive experience. And I don't believe these people have had a positive experience," Watson said.

But Immigration Minister Andrew Little still won't commit to pausing the accredited employer scheme.

"We have about 27,000 accredited employers, we have about 77,000 workers here in New Zealand under visas under that scheme. The vast majority are working fine," he said.

Even though this is the reality for who knows how many.

"You told us that you have a better life in New Zealand, you can settle with the family here, your children have a good education here. Where is it? Like this? Everybody sleeping like this?" Babu said.

They were sold a dream, but instead they bought a lie.